2014: A Year in Insane Quotes From Turkey’s President
Turkish president and aspiring strongman Tayyip Erdogan is armed to the teeth. Not just with tanks and guns, but also with an impressive armory of bonkers vocabulary. In his time in office, Erdogan has used outlandish, conspiratorial, provocative and sexist remarks to distract attention from his many, many shortcomings and energize his conservative base. Result? Half his citizens adore him, the rest hate his guts. Whatever! The guy’s totally dominating the political landscape of the Middle East. Good job, Tayyip!
In terms of bizarre quotes, though, 2014 marked the year Erdogan really came into his own, with bon mots on feminism, British mining disasters and “robot lobbies.” Given the president’s unrestrained power and Turkey’s crucial strategic role in the region, the world can ignore these nuggets of absurdity or laugh them off only at its own peril. But despite being frightening omens of things to come, they are still pretty funny.
Enjoy Erdogan’s greatest hits of 2014 below.
Muslims Like Totally Discovered America, You Guys
No joke. This bit of solid gold from a gathering of Latin-American Muslim leaders seems to be part of a general push to boost self-confidence in the Islamic world, possibly at the expense of the facts. One of Erdogan’s ministers soon chipped in with the claim that a Muslim also first discovered that the world was round. Good to know. The president himself has argued that the growing number of Turkish children at religious schools would help reveal the REAL TRUTH behind Western-centric stories such as Columbus’s place in history.
Meanwhile, Turkey languishes near the bottom of most international education rankings.
Your Ortho Tri-Cyclen Is Killing Turkey
Erdogan’s claim that taking the pill and using condoms amounts to sedition came during a wedding speech. For real, a wedding speech. In the past, the president he has called abortion “murder” and denounced cesarean sections as a conspiracy against Turkish fertility. Wake up, sheeple!
His campaign to have Turkish women to have at least three (and preferably five) children is just one of the most prominent examples of his increasingly intrusive governing style and extremely conservative values.
Suck It, NATO!
The West is exploiting the Middle East. The Islamic world must unite. All problems in the region are due to an apocalyptic clash of civilizations. You’ve heard it all before. But remember: Turkey is a member of NATO and is supposed to be working with the U.S. against the ISIS jihadis in Syria and Iraq (with whom the nation shares borders). With friends like these, right?
You Ladies Just Don’t Get Motherhood Like I Do
Erdogan actually said this in front of an audience of Turkish women. Guts? This guy’s got ’em. Of course, women’s rights organizations were on the streets and burning up the Internet the next day.
Actually, the context for Erdogan’s “women and men are not equal” statement is none too pretty: Turkey has a very low level of women in the workforce, and figures of male violence against women are both shocking and on the rise.
19th-Century British Industrial Disasters Happen All the Time
Erdogan’s citation of the perils and privations of Dickensian Britain came after 301 miners died this May in a mining disaster in Soma, western Turkey, because of a lack of safety measures. The dubious relevance of 19th-century British industrial safety led some critics to wonder whether Turkey’s all-powerful president was increasingly out of touch with reality.
The locals weren’t impressed. When Erdogan visited town, they protested, causing him to yell: “You boo the prime minister [his post at the time], you get slapped.” One of his advisers was photographed kicking a mourner pinned to the ground. The adviser kept his job.
The Robot Lobby Is Out to Get Me
This is just one of Erdogan’s attempts to outsource the root of Turkey’s problems to various mysterious “lobbies.” There’s the “interest rate lobby,” which may or may not be a code-phrase for Jews, the “chaos lobby,” which is falsely accusing him of corruption, and the “blood lobby,” which is an awesome name for a band. Some of his supporters, angry about criticism of increasing Internet censorship, have accused a “porno lobby” of targeting Turkey, too.
It’s also an ironic gem, because Erdogan was shown to have his own Twitter bot army this year.
I Will Destroy Twitter With My Magic Powers! Just Watch!
Of course, mere hours after making this statement, Erdogan had his access to his Twitter account blocked. That’s how these things work.
Erdogan has called Twitter a menace to society in the past. As this example shows, his words, disturbing and downright odd though they may be, undoubtedly matter.