The change taking place in the fabric of Turkey' society as it grows closer to Islam under the guiding hand of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is becoming increasingly ubiquitous, even manifesting itself in the personal lives of the leader's close associates. The Turkish administration has come under fire recently when it came to light that one of Erdogan's advisors has taken family values to an extreme many find unacceptable – he is married to three women.
Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported Ali Yuksel, an advisor to Erdogan who considers himself an Islamic authority, is married to three women and has declared his intentions to marry a fourth, sparking criticism within the government. Yuksel's appointment was approved quietly by the government in June. However, Turkish journalists have recently decided to surface the issue of his polygamous lifestyle.
Yuksel's polygamy made headlines already in 2004, when he was quoted as saying that he plans to marry a fourth wife.
"Such matters are not considered to be problematic by the Development and Justice Party (Erdogan's ruling party, also known as AKP)," said sociologist Yıldız Ecevit to Hurriyet. "They don’t' see this as adulterous and justify it with Islam. This contradicts efforts to achieve equality between men and women. This practice challenges women's rights."
About six years ago, AKP considered making adultery a criminal offense, but withdrew their efforts following criticism from the EU. Senior party members expressed conservative views on marriage and family. Erdogan himself asked all Turkish couples to have at least three children, while his minister responsible for women and family affairs criticized scenes in soap operas that show couples kissing.
The newspaper quotes Attorney Yasmin Oz, a Turkish lawyer, who indicated that though polygamy is outlawed in Turkey, the law does not indicate any punishment for someone married to more than one woman. "Sanctions are needed," she said.
Though polygamy was outlawed in 1926 shortly after founder of secular Turkey Kemal Ataturk took power, the phenomenon is still prevalent in some parts of the country.
On this matter, an AKP mayor of a town in the Reza district, near the Black Sea, claimed that the Kurdish issue could be solved by Turkish men marrying multiple Kurdish wives. He was later forced to apologize and the party launched an investigation against him.
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