Turkish woman to face investigation for poking fun at misogynistic ‘hadith’

A Turkish woman is facing a police investigation over a tweet playing on what is believed to be a derogatory prophetic saying on women posted five months ago, Maaz Ibrahimoğlu reported for news website Serbestiyet.

“A society that leaves its business at the hands of a man cannot find salvation,” Zeynep Algı had tweeted, joining this summer’s popular trend on Turkish Twitter of turning misogynistic proverbs and traditions on their heads.

Algı’s tweet referred to an unconfirmed hadith, sayings attributed to the the Muslim prophet Muhammad, which refers to women.

Many women were tweeting in protest of misogyny at the time, saying men could work if their wives permitted them, should watch what they wear to avoid harassment, and other similar tropes.

The spontaneous campaign, under the hashtag “let men know their place,” spurred condemnation from the Women and Democracy Organisation (KADEM), an initiative whose vice president is the daughter of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The group said the tweets had “reached a level that will damage the values” Turkey holds.

One professor of Islamic Sciences, from the now-shuttered Istanbul Şehir University, protested Algı’s tweet, saying that hadiths were no laughing matter.

Professor Mustafa Özel tagged Turkey’s Interior Ministry and police headquarters in one tweet accusing Algı of being a sinner, questioning how the young woman “dared”  to write the opposite of the hadith.

Five months later, Algı received a call from the police and was informed of the investigation against her over charges of inciting hatred.

In her testimony at the police station, Algı said she was a devout Muslim and had wanted to raise awareness against the hadith that she believed was not authentic.

“I was disturbed because young people would shy away from religion due to such fabricated hadiths,” she said. “I do not accept made-up hadiths imposed as religion by a patriarchal system that insults women.”

The young woman told Serbestiyet that she didn’t believe criticism of any faith was deserving of punishment.

“A chief of medicine calling for taking second wives, or his anger against secularism for not being able to wear traditional Islamic dresses did not draw this much attention,” Algı said in a tweet. “As a person who chooses to have faith, I have a responsibility to lead a virtuous life. I fulfilled that obligation.”