Women in workforce ruining economy, says popular Turkish cleric

A popular pro-government Turkish cleric has said that the presence of women in the workforce is to blame for the country’s ailing economy.

"Women working is a great source of fitna (discord) and disorder… can this country improve when the disturbance that is women working in the same environment as men is taking place?’’ Ahmet Mahmut Ünlü, also known as Cübbeli Ahmet Hoca, said while speaking to Islamist YouTube channel, Lalegül TV. 

"Everything is related to this, unemployment, low wages for men and the trouble with the economy,’’ said Ünlü, a preacher from the Naqshbandi Sufi sect.

Ünlü’s statements arrive as Turkey struggles with high inflation, rising unemployment and skyrocketing food prices following financial crisis in 2018, which sent the lira on a downward spiral against the U.S. dollar.

The 54-year-old, one of Turkey’s most distinctive preachers, has become a household name with expansive Quranic knowledge, which he delivers in a spirited and humorous fashion. 

Reports emerged in March of this year that an advertising firm belonging to Ünlü’s son-in-law, Esat Palazoğlu, and his elder brother, Muhittin Palazoğlu, had received 3,597 million lira ($615,000) from the Istanbul municipality for a tender to organise a marathon in Istanbul’s historic peninsula.