Saturday, May 19, 2007

Turkey: Swimsuit photos banned, could cause 'car accidents'

(I guess this means the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue is a no go, too.)

A DECISION by Turkey's largest city to ban some pictures of swimsuit models has revived claims about the rising power of Islam, with newspapers saying the move was more befitting of theocratic Iran than a secular democracy.
Istanbul municipality asked stores selling swimwear made by Turkish manufacturer Nelson to seek permission to place photographs of models in swimsuits and bikinis on store front windows located on main streets. It then denied them permission.

The controversy follows several large secularist protests in Turkey, a secular republic with an overwhelmingly Muslim population, against the ruling AK Party, which controls the Istanbul city authority and which has Islamist roots.

Secularists say AK wants to undermine Turkey's separation of state and religion and to boost the role of Islam in daily life, claims which the centre-right, pro-business party denies. “Is this becoming a land of mullahs like Iran?” asked the Vatan daily, commenting on the row over the swimwear pictures.

Echoing that comment, the staunchly secular Cumhuriyet daily quoted local consultant Ali Saydam as saying: “(The AK Party) is creating worries that they are turning Turkey into Iran.” This year four firms were denied permission to hang photographs in store windows, according to newspaper reports.
Moris Eskinazi, part owner of Nelson, told Reuters the need to seek municipality permission was new. “We've never had to get permission before, and they wanted us to bring a copy of the photographs we planned on putting up,” he said.

The authorities offer a string of rationalizations for their actions. First, there was the car accident excuse. They they said the ads weren't up to EU standards. Finally they played the aesthetic card, saying that they violated the historical character of the city. Headscarf ads? Well, they don't appear to violate the historical character of the city. You can buy ad space all day long for them... Creeping sharia...

More at the link.