Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan set off a new controversy today, declaring that women are not equal to men—comments that are in violation of the country's constitution, according to one lawyer. Addressing a meeting in Istanbul on women and justice, Erdogan said men and women are created differently, that women cannot be expected to undertake the same work as men, and that mothers enjoy a high position that only they can reach. "You cannot put women and men on an equal footing," Erdogan said. "It is against nature. They were created differently. Their nature is different. Their constitution is different."
Erdogan, himself a devout Muslim, also accused feminists of not understanding the special status that Islam attributes to mothers: "Motherhood is the highest position ... You cannot explain this to feminists. They don't accept motherhood. They have no such concern." Erdogan has previously angered women's groups by stating that women should bear at least three children and by attempting to outlaw abortion and adultery. He raised eyebrows this month by declaring that Muslims had discovered the Americas before Christopher Columbus. (Read more Recep Tayyip Erdogan stories.)