Here are 9 eyebrow-raising things Turkey’s Erdogan has said over the years

If Recep Tayyip Erdogan had his way — and let's hope he never does — women would stay home, have lots of babies and obey their husbands. 

The Turkish president, known for his bizarre views on pretty much everything, said as much during a talk to a women's conference on Monday.  

Here's an excerpt of the speech that confirmed Erdogan's primitive views on women and raised the hackles of feminists all over the world: 

“You cannot bring women and men into an equal position; this is against nature,” Erdogan told the meeting of an association promoting women's rights in Istanbul. 

“You cannot subject a pregnant woman to the same working conditions as a man. You cannot make a mother who has to breastfeed her child equal to a man. You cannot make women do everything men do like the communist regimes did … This is against her delicate nature.”

This isn't the first time Erdogan has offended women or tried to interfere in their personal affairs. He previously told Turkey's fairer sex to have more babies for the sake of the country and he refers to women who choose to wear the hijab as "my little headscarved sisters." So telling them they are not and never will be equal to men will likely upset many of the more than 37 million women who make up nearly half of the country's population. 

More from GlobalPost: Turkey's Erdogan just moved into the world's most expensive palace. Here's what $615 million could have bought instead

Not that that will make much of a dent in Erdogan's popularity in Turkey. After serving as prime minister for 11 years, he was elected president in August. The man appears to be unstoppable. 

Which is worrying given Erdogan's strong autocratic streak, which we saw last year when he ordered police to crack down on anti-government protesters in Gezi Park, Istanbul. Protesters were brutally beaten, tear gassed, hosed and fired upon with rubber bullets as security forces tried to clear the square, drawing international condemnation. 

Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images

He also has a problem with freedom of speech, ordering Twitter to be banned in March after some incriminating recordings were posted on the social media network — a decision that was later overturned by the constitutional court. 

But it's what Erdogan says rather than what he does that sometimes attracts the most attention. The man has a penchant for saying the craziest things. 

We've trawled through the archives and dug up nine particularly memorable remarks made by the Turkish leader during his 11 years — and counting — in office. 

On the New World's discovery

“Muslims discovered America in 1178, not Christopher Columbus," Erdogan told a summit of Muslim leaders from Latin America on Nov. 15.

"Muslim sailors arrived in America from 1178. Columbus mentioned the existence of a mosque on a hill on the Cuban coast."

"I would like to talk about it to my Cuban brothers. A mosque would go perfectly on the hill today." 

Many historians, however, believe it was C.C. who got there first.

On Twitter

Adem Altan/AFP

“We now have a court order. We’ll eradicate Twitter. I don’t care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic,” Erdogan told supporters on March 20.

During the 2013 protests he also said:  "There is a problem called Twitter right now and you can find every kind of lie there. The thing that is called social media is the biggest trouble for society right now."

Hmm… it's probably a bigger problem for Erdogan.

On journalism

During the presidential election campaign in August, Erdogan lashed out at The Economist’s Turkey correspondent Amberin Zaman, calling her a “shameless militant woman disguised under the name of a journalist.”

Zaman had earlier asked an opposition leader whether “Muslim society is able to question" authorities.

"Know your place," Erdogan said. "They gave you a pen and you are writing a column in a newspaper. And then they invite you to a TV channel owned by Dogan media group and you insult at a society of 99 percent Muslims."

Riiiight. Sounds like only one person was offended. 

On social media networks

“We won’t allow the people to be devoured by YouTube, Facebook or others," Erdogan said on March 6 after audio recordings of his alleged conversations suggesting corrupt behavior were leaked.

Something tells us Erdogan is the one who doesn't want to be devoured. 

On democracy

Adem Altan/AFP

“Do you have the right to take such a decision (on Turkey)? You stay silent about what’s happening in France, in England and elsewhere in Europe, and you dare to take a decision on our security forces, who are exercising their duty of law enforcement against those demonstrators. You are anti-democratic,” Erdogan said June 17, 2013, after the EU criticized Turkey’s heavy-handed response to protesters.

“You (EU) do not respect democracy. Your definition of freedom is different. You support those who attack the freedom of others.”

Erdogan certainly has a different interpretation of "freedom."

On protests

"If Taksim Square is not evacuated, this country's security forces will know how to evacuate it,” Erdogan said on June 15.

"Staying there (in Gezi Park) makes no sense anymore as the matter is now in the hands of the courts. Nobody can intimidate us. We take no orders or instruction from anyone but God."

So God ordered the brutal crackdown on protesters? 

On alcohol

"I want them to know that I want these (restrictions) for the sake of their health … Whoever drinks alcohol is an alcoholic," Erdogan said on June 2, 2013, after tighter restrictions on alcohol sales sparked protests.

On babies


“One or two children mean bankruptcy. Three children mean we are not improving but not receding either. So, I repeat, at least three children are necessary in each family, because our population risks aging,” Erdogan said on Jan. 2.

“We are still on the good side, as we still own a young and dynamic population. But we are slowly aging. Presently, the whole western world is trying to cope with this problem. Please do not take our susceptibility lightly, this is a very serious issue.”

On mining accidents

“These types of incidents are ordinary things,” Erdogan told the families of dead and injured miners in the Turkish town of Soma earlier this year. The official death toll from Turkey's worst mining accident was 301.  

Erdogan attempted to back up his insensitive comment by recounting a list of foreign mining accidents dating back to the mid 19th century. 

Way to go, Erdogan.

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