Istanbul hit by earthquake, Islamists blame women

Islamist social media users in Turkey sparked outrage on Thursday when they blamed a 5.8-magnitude earthquake that struck on women who "behave promiscuously”.

Women were reportedly harassed on the streets after the earthquake struck and citizens were evacuated from buildings.

The Islamists made women scapegoat for the tremor, saying they had provoked the earthquake by not dressing modestly, leading men astray, corrupting their chastity and spreading adultery in society.

One social media user interpreted the earthquake as a sign from God warning Turkey to cancel a Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, dubbed the Istanbul Convention. 

The convention, which Turkey was the first country to ratify in 2012, has for years been in the crosshairs of Turkish Islamists, who say it empowers LGBT+ groups and is damaging the institution of the family.

Residents rushed to escape from buildings and look for a safe place when the earthquake struck. This brought some women into the firing line from misogynists, according to reports on social media. One man was targetting women on the street, saying that "earthquakes happen because of them", a woman said.

Another woman, who was wearing a short shirt was harrased by another man. He said the tremor was a warning from above.

While many accused women for the earthquake, Fatih Tezcan, a prominent pro-Erdoğan social media personality, took it to another level and blamed the United States for Thursday's tremor.

Women were also made scapegoats after a major earthquake struck near Istanbul in 1999. Two months after the 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck the northwestern province of Kocaeli, killing at least 17,480 people, a woman held a placard saying "was 7.4 not enough?" during a protest against headscarf bans at schools.

The placard referred to the country’s long-running debate between secularists and pious Muslims, implying that women had brought the disaster on their city by refusing to wear the Islamic veil.