The wife of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday hailed the harem of the Ottoman sultans as “a school for preparing women for life,” AFP reports.
Emine Erdogan’s comments come a day after the president triggered protests by saying he believed that “a woman is above all a mother” in a speech marking International Women’s Day.
Critics have accused Erdogan’s government of trying to impose strict Islamic values on Turkey and curtailing women’s civil liberties.
“The harem was a school for members of the Ottoman dynasty and an educational establishment for preparing women for life,” Emine Erdogan said at an official event on the Ottoman sultans in Ankara, according to Turkish TV stations.
President Erdogan has come under fire in the past for urging Turkish women to have at least three children and railing against efforts to promote birth control as “treason”.
He and his wife regularly speak of their attachment to Islamic principles and the values of the old Ottoman empire, from the ruins of which the modern Turkish state was founded in 1923.