Monday, 22 February 2010

Turkey and the Ban on Headscarves

Despite numerous articles, blog posts, interviews and column inches from Muslim women explaining why they love the hijab, Times contributor (28 January 2010), Suna Erdem is still entirely unable to see it as anything other than oppressive and offensive. Despite this, even she agrees that banning the burka would not benefit women in any way:

“Despite its mainly Muslim population, Turkey, whose strict understanding of secularism was imported from France, has Draconian practises against female Islamic clothing. There is no law specifically outlawing the burka or the headscarf, the more common choice in Turkey. But various central directives and local decisions have meant that Turkish women wearing headscarves have been effectively prohibited from parliament, state offices and universities (even France went only as far as schools).

Has the headscarf and even more strict coverings disappeared from Turkish streets at least? Well, given that a Government with an Islamist history and many headscarved wives has won two elections, no. The secularists may recoil when Mrs Erdogan, representing them, is photographed wearing a black scarf and long black clothing at the Royal Opera House next to Michelle Obama, but their ban did nothing to prevent that, did it? Women in headscarves are, against the odds, also achieving prominence in the media and even fashion, where the designer Rabia Yalcin is well-known, despite a boycott by Turkish glossy mags.

From what I have seen, the Turkish ban has penalised women whose decision to cover up is not negotiable, either because they truly believe or have been forced by their families. The militants can look after themselves, but others have been denied a place in the world, an education and a chance to equip themselves with the tools to make up their own minds.
They are denied a chance to empower themselves and pushed deeper into a society where they are likely to be downtrodden.

So please, don’t tell me that banning the burka would be a step for women’s rights.”

You can read the full article here.

Two women display a sign Thursday that reads “Don’t touch my head scarf” in protest of a ban on the Muslim head wear in universities in Turkey (AFP) (image source).

1 comment:

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