Turkey’s subway stations have been plastered with ‘moral warnings’ telling commuters to abstain from kissing or showing affection in public. In short, asking them to act in accordance with moral rules.
Understandably this did not sit well with many people who decided to stage a protest doing just what they had been prohibited to do!
They gathered and quite publically not only demanded their right to show affection and kiss publicly but exchanged kisses as well to mark their point.
Dozens of couples locked lips at a subway, many bore placards protesting against the ban.
But there was a reaction as well; a conservative group of people staged a counter-protest. Police set up barricades between the groups but things went out of hand when a person was stabbed by one of the Islamists.
The so-far-secular-state of Turkey is rapidly becoming quite conservative in the last few months. The government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has introduced several measures opponents see as a sign of the creeping Islamization of the country, including restrictions on alcohol and the government’s denial to build a church.
These are worrying incidents as laws in Turkey are supposed to protect against religious paternalism. So far it has been the only Muslim country that kept restaurants open during Ramadan (the religious month of fasting when public eating and drinking for the non Muslims is prohibited from sun up to sun down) and where headscarves are banned at public offices and educational institutes.
Turkey under Erdogan has made impressive progress in terms of economic betterment and its regional and international role. But the fact that fundamentalism seems to be creeping back in the anti-clerical, pro-Western vision and secular state, is very disturbing.