President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has slammed Islamic writers over their sexist comments, calling on the Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) to take a more active role in adapting religious practices to current historical and social conditions.
“We would never take into account the words of some marginal people who aim at nothing but to abuse the values of our religion, our nation,” Erdoğan said on Mar. 8 to mark International Women’s Day in Ankara.
His comments came after conservative Social Fabric Foundation head Nureddin Yıldız stirred debate by making a controversial comment on violence against women.
“Women should be grateful to God, because God allowed men to beat women and be relaxed,” Yıldız said on Mar. 3, in a video posted online.
Yıldız was already a subject of complaint. He previously sparked outrage after suggesting that children as young as six-years-old could marry other children or adults, as well as suggesting that men and women should not get on an elevator alone together.
Following the outrage, Ankara Public Prosecutor’s office filed a criminal complaint against Yıldız for “inciting the public to hatred and animosity.”
“These preachers have no place in our religion,” Erdoğan shouted in his speech without giving Yıldız’s name.
“They are either not living in this century or are living in an entirely different century because they are so impotent that they do not know Islam should be revised,” he said.
“You cannot implement provisions that were dated 14-15 centuries ago,” he said, adding that to “carry the regulations and traditions of a specific society in a specific date would only spoil the matter.”
He accused the preachers of using religious concepts “to be popular,” stating that “they are doing wrong not only to women but also to our belief and religion.”
“We can never accept that,” he said.
He said religious concepts can only be discussed by people who are capable and qualified on the issue, likening unqualified people who preach on the issue to “an elephant in a glassware shop.”
“I invite all people who comment on the matter to be careful, not to harm themselves along with our values and not to offend our women,” he said.
He said he had informed the deputy prime minister responsible for the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) on the issue, calling on experts who work under the directorate in the field of interpreting the Prophet’s sayings and Islamic law to have a more active role.
Historical revisions on women in politics
Erdoğan also suggested that the ruling Justice and Development (AKP) has marked an “historical development in women’s participation in politics.
“The number of female lawmakers in 2015 has raised to 81 from 24. The number of mayors and mayoral assembly members also experienced a significant development,” he said.