Erdogan accuses Women’s Day march of disrespecting Islam

Thousands of women shout slogans as Turkish police block the roads during a rally marking the International Women's Day at Istiklal Street in Istanbul, Turkey, 8 March 2018. [Sedat Suna/EPA/EFE]

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday (10 March) accused a women’s march in central Istanbul on Friday of disrespecting Islam by booing the Islamic call to prayer.

Several thousand women had gathered in central Istanbul on Friday evening for a march to celebrate International Women’s Day but police fired tear gas to disperse them.

In an election rally broadcast on television on Sunday, Erdoğan showed a video taken during the protest, showing women chanting while a nearby mosque was reciting the call to prayer.

“They disrepected the Azan (call to prayer) by slogans, booing and whistling,” Erdoğan told the crowd.

Women who took part in the march said on Twitter the chanting and whistling was part of the demonstration and was not aimed at the call to prayer, which began during their protest.

Turkish police regularly prevent protests in central Istanbul and elsewhere. Ankara tightened restrictions after the imposition of emergency rule following an attempted coup in 2016. The state of emergency was lifted last July.

Erdoğan’s rally was ahead of local elections on 31 March for mayors and municipal boards.

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