The backlash came following a speech by Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc about ‘moral corruption’ in the country.

“Chastity is so important,” he said. “She will not laugh in public.”

The comments have prompted outrage in Turkey with thousands posting photos of themselves laughing and smiling on Twitter and Instagram.

The BBC has reported that more than 300,000 tweets using the term “kahkaha” – the Turkish word for “laughter” – and on the hashtags “Resist Laughter” (#direnkahkaha) and “Resist Woman” (#direnkadin).

Writer and political commentator Ece Temelkuran was one of the first to tweet an image of herself smiling to her almost one million Twitter followers and encouraged other women to do the same.

“It was an extremely outrageous and conservative statement,” she said.”My whole timeline was full of women laughing – which was extraordinary, and kind of beautiful.”

Many people have suggested the government should instead focus on issues such as rape, domestic violence and the marriage of girls at a young age. And it’s not just women voicing their concern and criticism of the comments.

Famous Turkish TV presenter Fatih Portakal tweeted: “Oh God, let this be just a joke.”

“If women can’t laugh in public, then men should not cry in public,” he added – a reference to the deputy prime minister’s reputed propensity to shed a tear when listening to speeches by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The first round of the presidential election is due on August 10.

Image credit: Twitter/@cagla_bicer