Mixed student housing in Turkey could be a thing of the past if Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan gets his way.
He has said he wants to ban male and female students from living together both on and off-campus and that the government receives ‘intelligence’ about what goes on inside coed housing.
His comments have not gone down well with students.One told euronews: “this is people’s own choice. I mean I can invite my friends, my cousin or my family to come and join me. When I make this rent contract I do it on my own. The police has no right to come and control my place.”
Another student said: “our society which claims to be conservative and Islamic, accepts religious marriage without a civil ceremony as rightful but they think it is unethical when friends talk to each other in houses? I don’t understand and accept this mentality.”
The comments have also caused alarm amongst those concerned about too much Islamic religious influence on a secular state.
Dr. Cengiz Aktar, a political analyst from the Istanbul Policy Center said it would have little legal basis: “I don’t even think that this can be done by a legal regulation or decree. But what will happen I tell you. Some people who are willing to play “the ethic police (by themselves)” will harass young people and their families, linking their attitude to the statements of the prime minister. It has already started.”
The deputy prime minister has rebuked Erdogan, saying the comments left the government “unnecessarily open to criticism.”