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Good to see men showing courage on behalf of women in Turkey!
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.
Erdogan Mocks Male Women's Rights Activists as Model Faces Charges for Sharing Poem
Updated at 7:03 pm (GMT+2):
Meanwhile, a former Miss Turkey beauty queen faces up to 4.5 years in prison on charges of insulting Erdogan, the latest in a growing number of such cases, reports said Wednesday.
"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-publicized 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," said Erdogan.
"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."
Erdogan and members of his government have made a number of sexist comments in recent years. In November, Erdogan called gender equality "against human nature," arguing that women's life calling was motherhood. A month later, he said efforts to promote birth control were "treason."
In August, Erdogan drew mass criticism regarding his attitude towards the media and women when in a television debate he said to a woman journalist that she was a "shameless woman" and told her "to know [her] place."
The Islamic-rooted government of Erdogan has long been accused by critics of seeking to impose strict Islamic values on the private lives of Turks as well as limiting the civil liberties of women.
Former Miss Turkey risks prison term for sharing poem
Meanwhile, Turkish prosecutors said an investigation had been launched against model Merve Buyuksarac after Erdogan's lawyer lodged a complaint in November 2014 against a satirical poem taken from a magazine and posted on her Instagram site, state news agency Anatolia reported.
The prosecutors stated the charges carry a maximum penalty of 4.5 years behind bars.
The 2006 Miss Turkey, who was briefly detained last month, told an Istanbul court that she did not intend to insult the president.
In her testimony, Buyuksarac said she may have quoted a poem called the "Master's Poem" from weekly Turkish satirical magazine Uykusuz.
But the 26-year-old said she later deleted it after one of her friends warned her that such posts could bring criminal charges in Turkey.
The "Master's Poem" — which was shared by the model while Erdogan was serving as prime minister — criticizes the Turkish strongman with verses adapted from the national anthem.
Erdogan, who was elected president in August after steering the country as prime minister since 2003, is often dubbed "Buyuk Usta" (the Big Master).
"I did not make the adaptation. I shared it because I found it funny," she said.
Prosecutors said the posts could not be considered "in the context of freedom of expression" and were guilty of "exceeding the boundaries of criticism" and "overtly humiliating" the president.
The court is due to decide whether to start full legal proceedings and a trial.
Erdogan, then mayor of Istanbul, was himself imprisoned for four months in the late 1990s for reciting an Islamist poem that was deemed an incitement to religious hatred.
But after consolidating his power in Turkish politics, he has repeated the verses again and again.
In a statement posted on her Twitter account, Buyuksarac said "if there will ever be a trial" it would be on charges of "insulting a public official."
She also appeared to defend her conduct.
"If you google the poem I shared (the one that does not include any insult), you will see 960,000 more people shared it... it's interesting, isn't it?"
The case is the latest in a string of recent incidents in European Union hopeful Turkey, where protesters as well as journalists have found themselves facing criminal lawsuits or jail time after being accused of insulting or slandering Erdogan.
In a case that attracted wide attention, teenage schoolboy Mehmet Emin Altunses will go on trial on March 6 on charges of insulting the president in a speech in the conservative Anatolian city of Konya.
Four young people were arrested in four days last week on different charges of insulting the Turkish strongman during street protests this month.
Opponents accuse Erdogan of behaving like a modern-day sultan, his Islamist ideology and intolerance of dissent taking Turkey far from Ataturk's secular ideals.
In the past, he sued a newspaper cartoonist for portraying him as a cat entangled in a ball of wool.