First there was this …
To be honest, here in a quiet village in Turkey, nothing much changed and life went on pretty much the same as it always has but, if you’re used to a more liberal Western life, it probably seemed a harsh or even bizarre statement from a senior politician.
Indeed, almost as soon as the story broke, social media was alive with rampant condemnation from all over Europe.
But, strangely, a lot of the vitriol wasn’t aimed at Minister Bulent himself but at the nation he represents. Almost immediately, a single man’s opinion inspired the Twitterati to suggest the statement epitomised Turkey’s unsuitability to join the EU and there were even calls for a boycott of the nation’s holiday destinations.
But then there was this:
Personally, not for one moment would I support Minister Bulent’s suggestion that women should not laugh openly in public. Indeed, it was a relief to see Turkish women respond for themselves, confirming this can be a nation where people do have a voice and are not afraid to chide the more extreme comments made by their leaders.
But, equally, the arrogance and condescension Minister Bulent’s comments triggered on social media begs the question: What is it about the West which makes some believe they have an inalienable right to use their values as a template to which all must conform?
Rather than using mass communication methods to sneer or demand “punishment” for an entire nation, perhaps Western commentators would have been better supporting Turkish women who have made it clear that they have no intention of hiding their mirth – either at Minister Bulent’s suggestion or in general.
After all, wouldn’t imposing harsh or indiscriminate restrictions on an entire race in an effort to inspire a more liberal culture be somewhat disingenuous?