Islamic mobs invade central Istanbul after government lies and targets women on Women’s Day

It all started by women demanding to be heard on women’s day in Istanbul, Turkey. They had been marching peacefully for the last 16 years on March 8th in a country where their rights as women are being usurped gradually every single day.

Islamic mobs invade central Istanbul after government lies and targets women on Women’s Day

It all started by women demanding to be heard on women’s day in Istanbul, Turkey. They had been marching peacefully for the last 16 years on March 8th in a country where their rights as women are being usurped gradually every single day.

The police took all the measures to prevent the women from repeating their annual peaceful march this year. The march had taken place peacefully without any violence, incident, or any attacks in the previous years. Even last year, under a heavy State of Emergency, women were allowed to march freely and get a huge support. Maybe that unprecedented support for the women’s rights on the streets was the reason the government decided to pull the plug this year.

With the lifting of the State of Emergency women thought they could have a larger rally in Istanbul with many more participating this year with less Turkish state control. However, the Turkish government had had enough of women resisting against the growing power of patriarchy under the guidance and organization of the Turkish State.  Under Islamic rule, which is very obviously replacing the ever so fragile secularism -if one dares to even call the system in Turkey “secularism”- women are not allowed to show up on the streets and demand to be heard. They stay at home, they get pregnant and they cook for their husbands.

The Turkish police were ordered to stop women from marching this year. They erected barricades at the entrance of the street women marched for the last 16 years. However, women were also determined to fight back. They did not obey the orders of the police to disband and go home. They resisted and pushed forward to enter the street. Police started beating the women, spraying tear gas and even firing rubber bullets.

Nobody even noticed a very minor detail at the time when skirmishes were happening when the police were attacking and the women were holding their ground. The call for prayer from a nearby mosque had started as is customary in any country with Muslim majority experiences five times a day. The automated, recorded prayer song over a loudspeaker is a standard routine sound over the busy cityscape to such a degree that many people completely ignore and pay no attention to it. These calls are routine and there is no protocol to observe a song from a loudspeaker on a minaret. Everybody simply ignores them and go on doing their daily routines.

This evening prayer too lasted for a couple of minutes, and went silent, like a distant church bell in a Christian country. The police were firing, clubbing, pushing and spraying tear gas against the loud protests. The sirens were blasting, women were protesting, screaming, resisting, whistling and loudly booing the attacking police.

The police did not hear this prayer call during their attack on women, and continued their assault anyway. Neither the women heard the prayer song, nor the neighboring homes, businesses, shop owners, street merchants or people walking home in the busy downtown, central Istanbul among the fight between the women and the police.  It would not have mattered even if everybody heard it anyway. Calls for prayer are not an interruption in the busy city life similar to church bells in a Christian dominated country.

Fotoğraf: Ozan Köse/ AFP

All was business as usual in Istanbul with another peaceful demonstration attacked by the Turkish police.

Or, that is what the women thought until the next day when the government-fed, Islamic, right wing newspaper editors trying to find a way to discredit the rallying women decided to make this the top news item.

As if dictated from a higher office, the pro-government papers headlined exactly the same lie with exactly the same wording and exactly the same emphasis that the women had started booing and whistling against the prayer call coming from the mosque, and even tried silencing it.  The headlines across the country read, “Women Groups Attacked Prayer Call”

The president Erdogan immediately latched to this lie and started repeating it in his election appearances.  He brought this “attack” on his Adana and Iskenderun election speeches but he extended the supposed attack from the prayer call to now both prayer and to the flag.  He even went further and denounced the “attack” against the prophet Muhammed and asked to slap the indecent, infidel women across the face with a mythical “Ottoman Slap.”

His calls were answered the next day when Islamic mobs ascended to the streets where women were not allowed to rally couple of days prior.  The police mostly did not try to stop the organized Muslim gang attack as horde intimidated the pedestrians, shop owners and shoppers by screaming, “Allah-u Akbar” meaning “God is great” and making racist and Islamic hand signs.  Only when they escalated their threats and started occupying the entire street did the police dispersed the mob.

The thugs that heeded the president’s call are the same armed gang of mobsters believed to be illegally and clandestinely organized by the government as a response to street demonstrations and for social control.  The same call and appearance of armed gangs had been observed in the suspicious “coup attempt” on July 15th, 2016.  The armed and organized street gangs may have been the only force the government could come up with as an alternative defense of its rule when the police force was dominated by a terrorist former ally of the ruling party AKP and the military was in the hands of the Kemalists, the more secularist officers opposing the Islamization of the country.

President’s repeating of the lies that the women attacked the prayer call did not go unchallenged though.  Immediately videos of the president continuing his election speeches while similar prayer songs were heard in the background.  If women had disrespected the call, so had the president.

However, the fabricated lies and attack against the women continued even at the face of videos proving without any doubt that the boos and whistling from the women were aimed at the police attacks and not against the religious call.  Actually, nobody was even paying attention to the insignificant, routine call repeated five times a day from minarets nearby.  Following their leader, the vice president of the ruling party and the spokesperson of the same joined the foray repeating the unsubstantiated lies.  Then the neo-Nazi ultra nationalist MHP leader Bahçeli also condemned the supposed attack against the sacred religion.  It is obvious that the ruling AKP and its junior partner MHP had to stoop down to spreading lies to discredit the women’s movement days before the March 31st provincial elections to gather the very much needed votes.

Spreading lies has become the main election strategy for the ruling party with dwindling support in the recent years.  Even when a pro-government newspaper when confronted with video evidence had to concede and issue an apology for their lies on the “prayer song attack by the women,” the government and its allies are still pushing the issue as it is a sure way to gather votes.

Winning in the elections has become a life-or-death issue for the government.  With atrocities and corruption becoming the norm to govern, one cabinet member voiced his concern, “If we lose, people will not even let us walk on the streets.”  Unprecedented election frauds are revealed everyday as hundreds of thousands of non-existing voter registrations are surfacing from around the country perpetrated by government officials.

Knowing they “would not be allowed to walk on the streets” if they lost, the government is left only with inciting its religious base and armed goons with fake attacks against the sacred to rally support.

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