Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused women who took part in a march in Istanbul for International Women’s Day of lacking respect for Islam.
“The women had failed to honour a call to prayer by taking part in the march,’’ Erdogan said on Monday at a campaign event in the southern Turkish city of Hakkari.
He also accused the women of wanting to stir up political sentiment ahead of municipal elections at the end of March.
During the campaign event, Erdogan commented on videos of the march, pointing out that the demonstrators continued to whistle and shout slogans while a call to prayer could be heard in the background.
He called the women “outrageous people who have demonstrated hostility to the call to prayer, the flag and morals in the heart of Istanbul.”
He also blamed opposition parties for the march.
Erdogan’s comments came after police were criticised for using tear gas and barriers to break up the peaceful demonstration in Istanbul’s Taksim Square on Friday.
In previous years, International Women’s Day marches have been allowed to take place in Turkey in spite of the state of emergency imposed after a 2016 coup attempt.
However, this year, police blocked the march shortly before it began.