Not funny: Turkish deputy PM says women ‘shouldn’t laugh in public’

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc, a minister in Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s conservative government, has outraged Turkey’s secular community by claiming that honest women should not laugh in public. The statement came during a meeting of the ruling Justice and Development Party held during Turkey’s celebration of Eid al-Fitr, the day marking the end of Islam’s holy month of Ramadan. Arinc also has urged women—and men—to be chaste.

Chastity is so important. It is not only a name. It is an ornament for both women and men.

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc

The 66-year-old Arinc also lambasted racy TV shows, saying they are turning the young into a generation of “sex addicts” and claimed easy access to pornography online was causing moral decay in Turkish society. Although no one was reported laughing because of the comments, opposition leader Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu suggested some levity isn’t a bad thing.

What our country needs the most is to hear the merry laughter of our women and of everyone else.

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, opposition leader