Turkish President Erdoğan slams women protesting Özgecan’s murder by dancing

Turkish President Erdoğan slams women protesting Özgecan’s murder by dancing

Turkish President Erdoğan slams women protesting Özgecan’s murder by dancing

AA Photo

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has harshly criticized some women’s organizations who have protested the killing of Özgecan Aslan by dancing, saying it was not a part of Turkish culture.

“They were supposedly protesting the death of our Özgecan by dancing. What kind of thing it this? Say the Surah Al-Fatihah if you know it. Give your condolences to her family. But she was dancing instead.

What place does this have in our culture? It’s like enjoying death,” Erdoğan said in his first public response to the murder of Özgecan Aslan on Feb. 16.

He was referring to a protest held by a group of women, including Aylin Nazlıaka, a woman lawmaker from the ranks of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), who took part in an event to raise their voices against rape, sexual harassment and violence against women by singing songs and dancing on Feb. 14. 

In a long address to Turkish contractors and businessmen, Erdoğan vowed to be closely involved in the trial process of the three killers, who he said must be given the heaviest penalty.

“The perpetrators of this nefarious massacre have been arrested. I will personally follow the case so that they will be given the heaviest penalty. I am already following the case,” he said.

Twenty-year-old university student Özgecan Aslan was killed last week by Suphi Altındöken, who then tried to burn her body with the help of his father and a friend. Altındöken has confessed that he tried to rape Aslan, after she boarded the minibus he was driving in the southern province of Mersin. He said that after the attempted rape he stabbed her to death before burning her body.

President Erdoğan and his wife, Emine Erdoğan, conveyed their condolences to Aslan’s parents over the phone on Feb. 15, as their daughters Sümeyye and Elif went to Mersin to meet the parents and share their pain.

Describing violence against women as a “bleeding wound,” Erdoğan said he hoped the incident would be a milestone in healing this wound.

“I call on gentlemen occupying most of the important decision-making positions: This could have happened to our daughters as well. I want to express my wish that the sensitivity sparked over Özgecan’s case will launch a new beginning,” he said.

Erdoğan also said he condemned those politicians who wanted to exploit the case for political advantage, without specifying who he was referring to.

Nazlıaka responded to Erdoğan's criticism in a statement sent to daily Hürriyet on Feb. 16, accusing the Turkish president of "ignorance."

"The dance was part of the One Billion Rising event. It was not an event in memory of Özgecan," Nazlıaka said, also claiming that "Erdoğan is responsible for the fact that violent incidents against women in Turkey have increased by 1,400 percent in 12 years."