ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday made controversial remarks about birth rates in Turkey in which he urged who he called “Muslim” women to deliver more babies because “the terrorists” were bearing at least “10 to 15 children.”
Erdogan’s comments drew criticism from the opposition lawmakers who said, given the annual fertility rates per province, his words were targeting the Kurds and not the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which bars its fighters from any sexual or marital relations.
“What do our god and prophet say? The order is pretty clear. Get married and reproduce. It is imperative that Muslims reproduce. I trust Muslim women’s sensitivity on this issue,” he told a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Istanbul.
“The terrorist group in Turkey is very sensitive on this. They have at least ten to 15 children,” Erdogan said, without specifying which group he meant in his televised speech.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy leader Mehmet Bekaroglu questioned Erdogan’s words.
“He is not talking about the Kurds but the terrorists. Is that so? Have the terrorists laid down weapons and started making babies?” Bekaroglu, also an MP for Istanbul, asked.
“Is this where we have come? President is saying Kurds are giving birth to too many babies, you do the same,” the MP of ethnic Laz origin tweeted in criticism of Erdogan.
According to Turkish Statistical Institute, an official government body, the first ten provinces with the highest total fertility rates in 2016 were Kurdish-majority ones, among them Sanliurfa, Agri, Siirt, Sirnak, Mus, Bitlis, Mardin, Van, Diyarbakir, and Batman.
With a total fertility rate of 4.33, Sanliurfa was twice the national average which stood at 2.10 while the other Kurdish provinces making to top ten were all above 3.10.
The ten provinces with the lowest rates were all Turkish, said a May 2017 report.