The PJ Tatler

Where's Ben Affleck When You Need Him?

You may recall actor Ben Affleck’s reflexive defense of Islam when comedian Bill Maher and author Sam Harris referred to the religion as a “motherlode of bad ideas”:

“Gone Girl” star Affleck took umbrage at the pair’s contention that Islam is, in Harris’ words, a “mother lode of bad ideas” and that liberals are squeamish about criticizing Islam for stances on women and LGBT issues because people “have been sold this meme of Islamophobia, where every criticism gets confused with bigotry toward Muslims as people.”

Affleck said Harris — a neuroscientist known for works criticizing religion — and Maher were guilty of using a broad brush themselves.

“It’s gross. It’s racist,” Affleck said. “It’s like saying ‘shifty Jew.’ “

You have to wonder how Affleck will respond to the contention by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey that it’s “against nature” to think men and women are equal.

“You cannot put women and men on an equal footing,” he told a meeting in Istanbul. “It is against nature.”

He also said feminists did not grasp the importance of motherhood in Islam.

His comments often seek to appeal to his pious core supporters, says the BBC’s Mark Lowen in Istanbul, but they anger more liberal voters.

Turks who have more secular views argue that the government’s social policies are taking the country in a dangerous direction, our correspondent says.

Mr Erdogan has previously urged women to have three children, and has lashed out against abortion and birth by Caesarean section.
‘Delicate nature’

His latest remarks were delivered at a women’s conference in Istanbul.

“In the workplace, you cannot treat a man and a pregnant woman in the same way,” Mr Erdogan said, according to the Anatolia news agency.

Women cannot do all the work done by men, he added, because it was against their “delicate nature”.

“Our religion regards motherhood very highly,” he said. “Feminists don’t understand that, they reject motherhood.”

He said women needed equal respect rather than equality.

Mr Erdogan also told the Istanbul meeting that justice was the solution to most of the world’s issues – including racism, anti-Semitism, and “women’s problems”.

The Turkish leader often courts controversy with his statements.

Earlier this month, he claimed that Muslims had discovered the Americas more than 300 years before Christopher Colombus.

In his 11 years as prime minister, Mr Erdogan became a crucial player in regional politics

You can easily see Affleck’s dilemma. Does he trash Erdogan, who is only repeating the Islamic view of women, or does he defend Muslims for their misogyny?

Actually, if Erdogan wants to leave 50% of the population of his country on the sidelines, it’s his problem not ours. It’s what gives western countries a huge advantage over Islamic countries that oppress women and keep them from fully contributing to society.

Turkey was, at one time, a modern secular country. But over the decade that Erdogan and his Islamist Justice and Development party have been in power, the slow, inevitable decline of democratic institutions, as well as the Islamization of the army, has made Turkey the backwater of NATO.

Erdogan is far less circumspect lately about revealing his Islamic views. It should raise the question about Turkey’s continued participation in the alliance, given his coziness with the Muslim Brotherhood. He has refused to recognize Egypt’s new government, calling President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi “illegitimate.” Tellingly, he has adopted the Muslim Brotherhood supporters’ four-fingered “Rabia” salute as a part of his party’s rallying cry.

As the mask continues to fall, revealing Erdogan for the Islamist tyrant he is, dupes like Ben Affleck are going to have to decide which side of history they wish to be on.