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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, one of our NATO partners and a favorite of President Obama’s announced his belief that equality between men and women is “against nature” at a summit in Istanbul. Even worse he made the declaration at a convention organized by women’s groups campaigning to eliminate gender discrimination in all its forms.

“You cannot make women and men equal; this is against nature,” Erdoğan told the meeting full of women (including his own daughter). “You cannot subject a pregnant woman to the same working conditions as a man. You cannot make a mother who has to breastfeed her child equal to a man. You cannot make women do everything men do like the communist regimes did…this is against her delicate nature.”

I wonder if he says that in meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel?

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Instead of equality, he recommended what he called “equivalency”, the Hurriyet Daily News reported.

“Equality is turning the victim into an oppressor by force or vice versa,” the President said. “What women need is to be able to be equivalent, rather than equal.”

Speakers at the two-day event were due to include the UN’s regional director for women, global rights activists, academics, journalists and businesswomen.

One participant who attempted to ask a question during a speech by Turkey’s family and social policies minister, Ayşenur Islam, was allegedly taken out of the hall by security guards, who covered her mouth.

Mr Erdogan has been criticised for his recent statements declaring that every Turkish women should have three children and proposing to limit abortion rights, access to the morning-after pill and caesarean sections.

Erdoğan’s opinions on women’s rights are shared by members of his party. In July one of Erdoğan’s senior party officials said women should not laugh loudly in public.

“A man should be moral but women should be moral as well, they should know what is decent and what is not decent,” Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc, one of the co-founders of the ruling Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP), said in a speech. “She should not laugh loudly in front of all the world and should preserve her decency at all times.”

Until recently Turkey was a modern, secular democracy the proof that a Muslim nation could exist in the 21st century. Since Erdogan and his party took over Turkey has been heading back to the stone age, eliminating many of its secular reforms and moving the country toward a Muslim theocracy. And the further Erdogan pushes his country away from “western values” the more he is pursued by President Obama. Perhaps Obama should scold his buddy about the treatment of women.

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