A woman holds a poster showing a woman wearing a niqab with words that mean "about
a shameful picture" during a demonstration in Ankara, Turkey (AP).

Turkey’s Religious Directorate Blames Women, Perfume for Incurring Lust

June 02, 2008 07:02 AM
by Anne Szustek
The Diyanet, Turkey’s directorate for religious affairs, published an article on its Web site suggesting that women wearing perfume and working in mixed-sex offices is “immoral behavior.”

30-Second Summary

The country’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been lauded by some for instituting reforms to help bring the country in line with the rest of Europe after decades of statist economic intervention.

But it has also implemented policies construed by some as Islamist. Alcohol has been banned intermittently and pork producers are being shut out of business. Earlier this year, the government overturned a ban on Islamic headscarves for public university students. Government secularists saw this as the last straw, and filed a motion to oust the AKP for contravening the country’s policy of secularism.

So when the Diyanet, the modern incarnation of an Ottoman Empire post that governs religion in the country, published an article on its Web site arguing that women who wear perfume, make so much as eye contact with men outside their immediate family, or do not cloak their figures can blame only themselves for sexual harassment, it sparked further fears of religiosity curbing the country’s Mediterranean epicureanism.

Secular columnist Yusuf Kanli wrote, “Is this mentality different at all with that of the Taliban that placed Afghan women behind chadors?”

But attitudes like the Diyanet’s exist closer to home, as well. A male blogger wrote that women wearing “short skirts and plunging necklines” were only egging on New York subway catcallers.

Headline Link: ‘Religious Authority Warns Women against Perfume, Flirtation’

Video: Matt Lauer interviews Istanbul expat women

Background: Recent religion-related developments in Turkey

Historical Context: Secularism in Turkey

Opinion & Analysis: Religion indelible part of Turkish culture

Reference: Turkey, Islam

Related Topic: ‘“Grope Patrol” in Boston Curbs Sexual Harassment on the Subway’


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