Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday accused women who participated in an International Women’s Day march on Friday of being disrespectful to Islam, labelling them enemies of the Islamic call to prayer and the Turkish flag, independent news site Diken reported.
Several thousand women who convened in İstanbul on Friday to march on International Women’s Day were met with tear gas fired by the police who tried to disperse the crowd.
Showing video footage taken during the protest which captured women chanting slogans while a nearby mosque was reciting the call to prayer, the Turkish president said, “They disrespected the Azan (call to prayer) by slogans, booing and whistling,” during a rally in the central province of Adana ahead of the elections on March 31.
Participants in the march have responded on Twitter saying they were chanting and whistling as part of the demonstration and did not target the call for prayer, which began during their protest.
This year marked the 17th year of İstanbul’s Women’s Day march on Istiklal Street.
Following Turkey’s state of emergency rule in the aftermath of the attempted coup in 2016, Turkish police have regularly prevent protests in central İstanbul and elsewhere. Capital Ankara has also tightened restrictions on protests.