Whether or not students of the opposite sex should live together is the latest controversy to envelop Turkish Prime Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. But this time there’s a twist to the story: the prime minister is facing criticism from various corners, including from elements among his own conservative, pro-Islamic base.
Erdoğan touched off the controversy during a November 6 news conference when he condemned the concept of unmarried males and females living together. “How is it possible that a girl and a boy can live together in a private property?” Erdoğan asked. “Can you tolerate such a thing for your daughter or your son?”
Interior Minister Muammer Güler at one point tried to frame the cohabitation issue within the context of “the fight against terrorism.” Students later held a peaceful demonstration on November 11 against an Erdoğan proposal to ban mixed private housing for male and female students.
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Dorian Jones is a freelance reporter based in Istanbul.