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Women arrested for making obscene hand gesture at Turkey's Erdogan

March 17, 2014 10:52

Erdogan says woman directed "ugly gesture" at him en route to political rally; "insulting a public official" punishable by prison time.

Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish PM, Tayyip Erdogan. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Turkish authorities detained two women who allegedly made an obscene hand gesture at Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the western city of Izmir on Sunday, Turkish daily Hurriyet reported.

Erdogan himself recounted the story to his followers at a political rally in the city, saying that the alleged offender's behavior was indicative of the CHP, or Republican People's Party, the main opposition to the Turkish premier's ruling AK Party.

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"While I was coming here today, a woman in company of a man, presumably her husband, did such an ugly gesture that reflects what CHP is. The prime minister of the country is passing by and she's doing that gesture with her hands and arms," Hurriyet quoted Erdogan as saying. He added: "You're a lady, a woman... How come you do such a gesture? This is the CHP mentality. I could understand if it was a man, although he also shouldn't do it, but I cannot comprehend how a woman does it."

Following Erdogan's remarks, two women were detained for questioning for allegedly making obscene gestures to the prime minister. In Turkey, the crime of "insulting statesmen and public officials" is an offense punishable by prison time.

Erdogan, who has presided over a decade of rising living standards, remains Turkey's most popular politician and his AK Party is expected to outstrip its rivals in local elections scheduled for March 30.

But critics say the prime minister is becoming increasingly authoritarian and intolerant, pointing to moves to tighten government control of the judiciary and of the Internet.

Erdogan says the moves are necessary to counter what he sees as attempts by a US-based Islamic cleric, Fethullah Gulen, a former ally-turned-foe, to smear him and his government and to undermine him before the elections.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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