“Know Your Place!” Turkish PM Erdogan Tells Woman Reporter

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Ahead of today's presidential election – of which he hopes to win – Turkey's Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out against a woman journalist, calling her a “shameless woman” and telling her to “Know Your Place!”

Erdogan remarks, which were made at a campaign rally in the eastern city of Malatya to Erdogan’s supporters, were met by loud boos from the audience.  The attack was in response to a question asked by Amberin Zaman, a 15-year veteran journalist for The Economist and a columnist for the Turkish newspaper Taraf.

During a televised debate, Zaman posed a question to Erdogan’s main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu as to whether he thought a "Muslim society is able to question" authorities.

Erdogan’s supporters immediately lashed out against Zaman on social media, launching a smear campaign against her for "insulting Islam and Muslims" as well as supporters of the government.

Erdogan’s remarks come on the heels of remarks by his Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Ar?nç who recently said that women should refrain from laughing in public, because it’s immodest.

Speaking at an Eid el-Fitr gathering, Ar?nç said, “[The woman] will know what is haram [forbidden] and not haram. She will not laugh in public. She will not be inviting in her attitudes and will protect her chasteness.”

Following Ar?nç’s remarks, hundreds of women protested by posting pictures of themselves laughing on Twitter and other social media sites like Instagram.

Without mentioning her name at the rally, Erdogan called Zaman a "shameless militant woman disguised under the name of a journalist." 

"Know your place," Erdo?an screamed at the rally. "They gave you a pen and you are writing a column in a newspaper.  And then they invite you to a TV channel owned by Do?an media group and you insult at a society of 99 percent Muslims."

The Do?an media group is owned by Do?an Holding. It is the largest media group in Turkey and owned by Ayd?n Do?an, who often opposes Erdogan.

The Economist stood by Zaman in a statement that said, "We stand firmly by her and her reporting."

"The intimidation of journalists has no place in a democracy,” the statement continued. “Under Mr. Erdogan, Turkey has become an increasingly difficult place for independent journalism."

In her column in Taraf, Zaman wrote a response to Erdogan saying, "You are lynching a Muslim woman who described what you are doing. Because women are sitting targets, aren't they?"

Zaman reported being called a “Jewish bitch” on social media and told to become a "concubine" of Islamist jihadists in Iraq.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said they feared for Zaman’s safety in Turkey due to the widespread government campaign against her.

In a statement issued by OSCE, the organization’s representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic said, "I am alarmed by the latest example of intimidation and threats towards journalists in Turkey." 

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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