To measure movement across a society, it helps to have some fixed points of reference. In Turkey, as in so many places, one of those constants is the wedding. Almost everyone who marries has one. Many who are not married want one. And, you can learn a lot from watching them.
In Turkey these days, wedding watchers are seeing a lot more of Islam and a little less of women, and a lot less of wedding guests in gender-mixed company.
On the other hand, there was a conspicuous exception: the nuptials of President Recep Tayip Erdogan’s youngest daughter — and presidential aide — Sumeyye’s wedding. Not only was the ceremony not gender segregated, the president’s daughter and other female attendees appeared in coed photos.
His own kid’s wedding aside, President Erdogan’s long political career has been marked by explosive growth in 3 areas, the influence of Sunni Islam, the personal power of the President, and the wealth of Turkey’s one percent.
That last helps account for another wedding trend: video. Today’s wedding photographer is not just snapping still pictures, he’s producing what can look like a major motion picture…drone-mounted cameras, …others mounted on jib-jabs, one-man cranes…employed not just for the wedding ceremonies, but, increasingly for elaborate wedding invitation videos.
New-fangled Turkish weddings are job creators. And not just for photographers and their crews. If Parliament does the expected, weddings may provide work for muftis.
Part of changed Turkey is the switch from secular public education to imam-hatips, schools of Sunni Islamic education. Many graduates are trained for low-level religious work, like muftis. Rafts of newly-minted muftis need employment and an Erdogan-backed bill will authorize them, for the first time, to make weddings legal.
Everything I just told you, I learned from reading the Al Monitor column of our guest today, Pinar Tremblay, Turkish journalist and a visiting scholar of political science at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.
Pinar Tremblay is a columnist for Al-Monitor’s Turkey Pulse and a visiting scholar of political science at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. She is a columnist for Turkish news outlet T24. Her articles have appeared in Time, New America, Hurriyet Daily News, Today’s Zaman, Star and Salom.