Müzeyyen Yüce/ DUVAR

Referring to a recent lavish baby blessing ceremony that sparked much controversy, Islamist opposition Felicity Party (SP) Women’s Branch President Ebru Asıltürk said that a recent wave of unbridled consumption practices have negatively affected conservatives in Turkey, in an interview with Duvar. 

“A baby blessing is a ritual, but we all must refrain from waste and showing off. We are witnessing this showing off and gaudiness everywhere, particularly on social media, and on the street and in the workplace. We are living in a period where the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, justice is being denied, and people are living under the effects of a consumer society,” said Asıltürk, a dentist by profession.  

Social media influencer Büşra Nur Çalar, who is also the wife of a former ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Ministry of Health official, made waves with her lavish and gaudy mevlit (Islamic baby blessing) ceremony, which was blasted by both opposition figures as well as those close to the government. 

“Due to the reasons I raised above, the conservative segment has been affected by consumer society. We have come to the point where we share everything in our private life on social media. We are continually following what each other is doing,” Asıltürk said. 

The SP is a small Islamist political party that has its roots in the Milli Görüş (National View) movement spawned by former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, an influential Islamist politician that inspired President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s former party, the Welfare Party (RP). Erdoğan broke away from that wing to found the AKP, while the SP was formed in 2001 and has emerged as one the most serious critics of Erdoğan and his AKP from within the Islamist right-wing. 

Ebru Asıltürk

Referring to recent high-profile cases of femicides that have outraged the country, Asıltürk said that these murders have deeply wounded the country, and an increase in femicides in spite of the Istanbul Agreement and other legislation in place to protect women is worrying for everyone. 

Responding to a question regarding why there are no women on the SP’s 12-member executive board, and to why there are only six women in the party’s 72-member general administrative board, Asıltürk said she doesn’t measure the political presence of women in the party based on titles and that the women’s branch is very active in the field. 

“To a great extent, there is the presence of women in all Turkish political parties, in the SP and in the previous Milli Görüş parties,” Asıltürk said. 

The AKP is planning on bringing a controversial regulation to parliament that would postpone the sentencing of perpetrators of sexual molestation of minors in the event that the victim marries their abuser, an initiative Asıltürk opposes. 

“Everyone has a unique life and no one has a monopoly over that life. There are judges, prosecutors, crimes and punishments in this country. Including the mother and father, no one can interfere with this unique life. If someone commits a crime, they must be punished,” Asıltürk said.