Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday mocked men who wear skirts, in an apparent jibe at activists who wore female clothes at the weekend in a protest supporting women’s rights.
“They call themselves ‘men’. What kind of men are they? Men wear trousers, why are you wearing skirts?” he said at a televised speech at his presidential palace in Ankara.
A few dozen men had marched through central Istanbul at the weekend, in a highly-publicised protest calling for an end to violence against women following the attempted rape and murder of a 20-year-old female student by a bus driver.
The killing of Ozgecan Aslan, 20, became a rallying cause for activists and unleashed a wave of public anger.
In his comments, Erdogan appeared to link the skirt-wearing activists to violent protesters the government wants to crack down on using a controversial new homeland security bill.
The bill, currently the focus of fierce clashes between lawmakers in parliament, will outlaw disguises in protests, including the use of masks.
“Unfortunately, they are wearing skirts and think that they manage to hide themselves. Be honest, be honest. They are terrorists and using every means possible.
“Why are you wearing masks? If you are not a terrorist don’t hide your face,” said Erdogan.