icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm

Erdogan's hectic week: Insulting women, threatening allies, and much more

Catherine Shakdam
Catherine Shakdam
is the Yemen Unit Director for the Next Century Foundation (London). Formerly a consultant on Yemen for the UNSC, her writings and commentaries have appeared in major outlets, including RT, Al Jazeera, CGTN, Elaph and the BBC.
is the Yemen Unit Director for the Next Century Foundation (London). Formerly a consultant on Yemen for the UNSC, her writings and commentaries have appeared in major outlets, including RT, Al Jazeera, CGTN, Elaph and the BBC.
Erdogan's hectic week: Insulting women, threatening allies, and much more
Love him or hate him, Turkish President Recep Erdogan makes for great television. If you thought the world of politics was boring, I suggest you plug in to his latest rant.

Before beginning my analysis, I’d like to thank Mr. Erdogan for the profound lessons he and his entourage ever so generously imparted to the world. How lucky we are to stand in the shadow of a man whose expertise encompasses all subject matters and all issues.

If I didn’t know better, I would dare venture that Turkey’s president suffers from a Messiah complex – thankfully such impure thoughts would never enter my subterranean brain – I am only a woman after all, and women cannot possibly hope to equal men – let alone understand them.

And so I would ask of you my fellow readers to please bask with me in the glorious wisdom Mr. Erdogan - the great Sultan of all Turkey - decided to share with us, common mortals.

President Recep Erdogan had a busy week. In the span of a few days our gallant head of state managed to anger women, make a parody of Islam, and threaten a few nations with dire reprisals should they defy his will. Who said it was easy being dictator? I must admit that when it comes to dedication to a job well done – totalitarianism - Erdogan is putting in the extra hours.

It all began with my personal favorite: “We will multiply our descendants. They talk about population planning, birth control. No Muslim family can have such an approach,” said the Turkish president before ranting on: “Nobody can interfere in God’s work. The first duty here belongs to mothers.”

May I assume that like me your jaw hit the floor. Did Erdogan just appoint himself as God’s personal spokesperson, demanding that the whole of Turkey reproduce? It appears he just gave a whole new meaning to the term ‘Godspeed’.

Seriously though, beyond the immediate comic effect of such a tirade, we ought to recognize the dangerous seed of ultra-nationalism, knee-deep in self-righteousness. By themselves, Erdogan’s comments could be shrugged off as the ranting of a man whose views on women, society and religion are an anachronism onto themselves. But if you are to frame this narrative within Erdogan’s ethnocentric rhetoric against the Kurds, you find yourself looking at a potentially covert call for something much more sinister.

Hear me out. Erdogan delivers his “go forth and multiply” speech on the wake of another - one which demonized the Kurds as “Atheists and Zoroastrians.”

In an attempt to appeal to religious sentiment and rouse Islamist fervor, Erdogan claimed that Kurdish militants had burnt down schools and mosques stating, "They are atheists, they are Zoroastrians. Nothing will come of them. They have not and are not acting with our values.”

And then this gem: “The terror organization’s [PKK] real issue isn't with the state. It is with the belief, holy book, prayer, history and culture of the region's people. Those supporting the organization are more concerned with uprooting the people and tearing them away from their values than a military victory. The number of militants killed within the organization and the innocent people killed by them is higher than those killed during operations by the state. Those who always talk of the past extrajudicial murders by the state cannot be sincere if they don't take a stand against this. We have never shied away from facing up to mistakes, deficiencies and the truth."

Now put together ultra-nationalism and calls for a religious crusade and you have yourself another Armenia.

Could it be that Erdogan needs new arms to fight in his army? Could it be that this ambitious autocrat seeks to resurrect the great Ottoman Empire on the belly of Turkish women? While we may laugh before the absurdity of his comments, we should fear what they imply.

“The first duty of a woman is to increase the country’s population,” said Erdogan.

Ok, so let me summarize here: Women are not equal to men, should they ever claim to be men’s equal they would damage the latter’s psyche so badly that it would drive them to suicide…

Unfortunately, that does not cover it all. Who could have forgotten how the long lost harems of the Ottoman Empire taught females how to behave like dutiful women. I clearly missed that lesson!

"The harem was a school for members of the Ottoman dynasty and an educational establishment for preparing women for life," Emine Erdogan, Turkey’s first lady, told reporters in March this year.

And then the proverbial cherry on the cake: birth control amounts to treason. Not my word, but his.

Chauvinism – checked.

Backwardism – checked.

Idiotism - checked.

Thanks to Mr Erdogan and Co. I’m able to invent new words. See, what did I tell you, a gift to mankind, that’s what the man is!

I grant you the section about gender equality and suicide actually came from Turkey’s Prime Minister’s mouth Ahmet Davutoglu back in December 2014 when he warned: "Women being equal to men causes suicides” You will admit though, it falls within the same rationale.

One would think that after such an intense few days the Turkish President would retire behind the golden walls of his grand palace. Nope… not that president!

Erdogan had a few more fishes to fry before supper and still found time in his pre-Ramadan schedule to threaten both the United States over its support of the Kurds, and then Germany over its desire to recognize the Armenian genocide.

“If Germany is to be deceived by this, then bilateral diplomatic, economic, trade, political, and military ties – we are both NATO countries – will be damaged,” Erdogan told reporters.

And the infamous: "PKK, PYD, Daesh (ISIL), YPG, they are no different from each other. They are all terrorist organizations. I condemn the USA's support for the PYD and YPG. This isn't what they promised us. I believe in honest politics. Our friends, those who are with us in NATO should not, cannot send their soldiers to Syria with the YPG insignia.”

Let’s hope that June will be quieter …

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.