When the reference is religion
MEHVEŞ EVİNThe prime minister is in good shape these days: He is able to create a topic for debate almost every day. Meanwhile, his discourse is progressively evolving from “conservative democrat” into “conservative.” Moreover, into “staunch conservative.” Some think he is just having fun. Others think he is very serious.
When debating with each other, we accept that everything depends on what the leader utters. From the opposition to the media, everybody is trying to absorb the daily “shocks.” The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government is very good at this. It was only during the Gezi protests that things turned upside down.
I tried to maintain my distance, but I could not keep myself outside the debate on, “Girls and men cannot stay in the same home.”
First, it is no secret that the prime minister has this view. He wants women and men in Turkey to base their lives on Islamic rules of life. For the last few years, he has not seen any harm in expressing his views in this direction more and more frequently; from, “We will raise a pious generation,” to suggesting an abortion regulation; from “covering up is the order of religion,” to stating that women and men are not equal.
In a steadily increasing dose, religion and politics are intermingling. In all political subjects, the reference is religion. Where, with whom, and how a student is living is determined according to the same conservative Islamic perspective. He gives us the message, “This is how it is according to us, the rest is up to you.” Nobody seems to consider that we are talking about adults, and that who these are staying with and how should not even concern their families anymore.
The same age group is enthusiastically encouraged to get married and to bear children but… Only as long as there is a marriage, then there is no problem!
His aides and advisors are once more engaged in major efforts to correct “misunderstandings” and “fabricated news.”
“We do not have the authority to monitor homes,” said Deputy PM Bülent Arınç. Oh God, the government is almost sorry that it cannot raid houses and separate girls and boys.
But, don’t worry. If our state wants to, it can very well find an excuse and raid student accommodation. It would name this, “propaganda of the terror organization.” And that would be it!
The chief advisor stated that the prime minister was actually referring to “apartment building style” places. Well, isn’t this worse? The government, bored with governing the country, is now preparing for building management, right?
We, on the other hand, have gotten so used to the prime minister “managing” everything by giving orders; we believe that he actually said such a thing to the Denizli governor. Anyway, we already know that everybody would stand to attention before the sole displeasure of the prime minister, that even if the prime minister did not actually say it, everybody would regard this as a duty. For this reason, we write the most improbable things as if it were a news story. It must, again, be entirely our fault.
No rent to students
The students in this country have suffered a lot, at all times. It is already a major problem for them to find accommodation. They are now being further excluded, poor things.
Gender discrimination is engraved in our genes. In Anatolia, if you go to a restaurant as a group of girls and boys together, they make you sit in the family section. As if all the other men in the restaurant are perverts!
The same mentality goes for co-ed homes. It is being considered that opposite sexes will definitely be involved in sex, which is why it is not considered appropriate. But what they are involved in is their own business; it is not the state’s business to go into the bedroom.
Mehveş Evin is a columnist for daily Milliyet in which this piece was published on Nov. 6. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.