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Turkish deputy PM Bulent Arinc defends 'laughter' speech

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc has complained about the Turkish media taking out of context a speech he delivered last week in which, among other things, he said women should not laugh out loud in public. "My speech did not solely focus on women. If the only words that I uttered during my one and a half hour speech had been about how a woman laughing out loud in public was a sign of being unchaste, then I would have made a grave mistake for which I would have been embarrassed and felt the need to apologize," Arinc said Tuesday at a live interview aired on private Star TV network. On July 28, the first day of the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr, Arinc gave a speech in his hometown of Bursa, a part of which addressed a perceived social degradation in Turkey. In the speech, he stressed the importance of chastity in both men and women, and said there were times when women were the symbol of chastity in society. “A woman should not laugh out loud on the streets. She should not be inviting in her attitudes and protect her chastity,” he said while talking about the debasement the society is suffering. Arinc’s words about women laughing in public sparked a social media campaign in which scores of women posted pictures of themselves laughing.

"If you re-broadcast my speech in entirety, then everybody would understand what I really meant," Arinc said Tuesday, adding that some people just attempted to hurt his image through singling out one sentence without providing the whole context it was uttered in.

"They wanted to hurt me, but they failed. Because what they said and thought was not what I meant." 

Arinc went on to say that his speech was praised by thousands of people who extended their thanks for bringing out such an important topic, namely social degradation.

Arinc said those who criticized his words numbered in the hundreds, adding: "This is nothing in a society of 76 million people of which half is women."

"I have never considered a woman unchaste for laughing out loud in public. They need to consider my whole speech," Arinc reiterated, adding that all Western countries had rules of social etiquette regarding how women should behave in public. 

"I stand by my words. They were completely true as shown by the strong reaction they evoked."

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