Turkish first lady praises Ottoman harem as ‘school preparing women for life’
The wife of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has praised the often-criticized harem of the Ottoman Empire as “a school for preparing women for life.” It comes a day after her husband said women are mothers above all other things, sparking protests.
“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.
— Ari Murad (@Arimurad) March 10, 2016
Seen as the ultimate symbol of a sultan’s power, harems typically consisted of the sultan’s multiple wives, servants and female relatives.
However, after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey was built on secular principles by Mustafa Kemal, better known as Atatürk, with Islam taking a backseat in Turkish society. Still, President Erdogan and his wife routinely speak of their attachment to Islamic principles and the values of the old Ottoman Empire.