As he runs out of stories to glorify his presidency and mark the Republic’s 100th year, President Erdoğan has announced that Turkey now aims to reach the moon as part of a national space program to be launched in 2023.
Yet this quest to make it to the moon did not ignite as much excitement on social media as Erdoğan’s words on female cosmonauts:
“I’m sure many people have grown up with this dream. Perhaps there are people among who still harbour this dream. Perhaps there might even be candidates amongst the ladies”
Of course, people have cracked endless jokes on the Turkish quest to the Moon and Erdoğan’s gender-discriminating comment. The Turkish word “Bayan” that Erdoğan used does not exactly translate as “lady”, but rather as “miss”.
Many women in Turkey have denounced this noun and have campaigned for years stating “Don’t call me bayan, I am a woman.” Nobody refers to men as “Bay” (Mr). “Bayan” is thus a word that epitomizes gender discrimination.
Erdoğan made it clear several times that women and men are not equal, before praising the motherly role of women in society and saying that the government “wouldn’t worry about what lesbians say.”
Regarding the protests, Erdoğan’s latest female target was Prof. Ayşe Buğra of Boğaziçi University, calling her “a provocateur, the wife of Kavala”, thereby shunning her work and intellectual abilities.
And Erdoğan now wants to send a man or a “missus” to the moon! Recent talks with Elon Musk suggest that might actually happen. Not sure if Mr. Musk cares much about the fact that the Turkish President undermines basic democratic principles, the rule of law and discards science.
Erdoğan seeks to make a show. He couldn’t care less about women’s empowerment. For him, women must get married, stay at home and be good mothers, even if they go to space!
What is more, while Erdoğan proudly announced his new dream, students who are meant to be “the future of Turkey” told a very different story.
A recent video that was posted by Boğaziçi students – the country’s most brilliant – shows students from several faculties who, after having briefly introduced themselves, go on with the undemocratic events taking place at their university and end with this sentence:
“I no longer feel I’m welcomed and listened to in my country. I feel sorry for my country.”
As I watched the video, I felt my heart burning. Here they are, in their 20s, from Kayseri to Hatay, the top engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs of the future.
I don’t only feel sorry, like they do, but ashamed. In fact, I’m deeply ashamed of by the way this country is ruled, the way democracy and pluralism are trampled on, which leaves no room for any bright future.