Dictating a lifestyle

Today, there is a front against the headscarf, but not against mini skirts. Take, for example, the latest news on Hayrünnisa Gül.

Dictating a lifestyle
By Ekrem Dumanlı, Today's Zaman

The principal aim of the secularist demonstrations held a few months ago was to convey the message that the people do not want others to intervene in their personal lives. Even those who did not undervalue the demonstrations conceded that the government had to be cautious and restrain from certain activities that might disturb "the system." Needless to say, no one can tolerate intervention in private life for it can lead to confrontation and harm the social fabric of society and even prompt a type of fascism.

"Dictating the lifestyles of others" may mean the idea that the dress code will change, perhaps because changing the image is usually the precursor to an in-depth intervention, although in most interventions the dress code is not the end, but only the means. Today, there is a front against the headscarf, but not against mini skirts. Take, for example, the latest news on Hayrünnisa Gül. Media fashion designers joined forces to create a new headscarf design for Mrs. Gül, demanding, "This is how you are allowed to cover your head." Their final choice was world-famous actress Sophia Loren's style. I suspect those who are imposing a new headscarf design on Mrs. Gül are ignoring the fact that thousands of young girls have been prevented from entering university campuses with their headscarves for more than a decade.

Basically, they are saying, "If you're going to cover your hair, then you have to cover it the way I want you to." If this isn't intervention in personal life, then someone should tell me what is. The issue is not a matter of dress code. It is a means of justifying intolerance. It is particularly disturbing when people who don't respect religion say: "Wait, you don't understand what your religion is telling you. These concepts don't work in this day and age. You're better off if you just follow me." Even if these words are reiterated with good intentions, which is highly unlikely, it is a front that offends people. This intolerant behavior eventually turns into a mentality that is based on the idea that "you either do as I say or I will label you as backwards."

This is the case: Those who wear the headscarf are disturbed by people who don't wear the headscarf and who tell them what to do and how to do it. There are a myriad examples of this approach, such as "the rows in the mosque should be like this: women should stand in the front rows" and even "women should lead the prayers." When people hear these domineering statements, they wonder, "Fine, if we change the rows in the mosques, will you come and pray with us?" We can modify this question for the headscarf as well. "If we wear the headscarf the way you want us to, will you wear it, too? Will you allow young women with headscarves to attend college?"

Don't think I'm exaggerating. This is the general mentality of a particular group. If on every Feast of the Sacrifice you ask, "Can we sacrifice a chicken instead of a sheep?" then naturally, the citizens will say, "Excuse me, but let me do my prayer the way I know to be right." As some people suggest that the Koranic verses in the daily prayers be recited in Turkish, others react, saying, "You pray the way you want, but please, just let me pray the way I want."

The media, mired in details and the day's hot issues, does not respect the emotions of the public. It appears oblivious to the feelings and values of others, and why they are so. Choosing headscarf styles for Hayrünnisa from Western actresses has a human rights dimension. But the media do not understand this, nor do they realize the existence of the thousands of victims in this case. Neither do they understand that these headscarf styles, presented with excitement and enthusiasm, are perceived as a form of imposition on and intervention in personal lives.

Empathy requires one to consider the feelings of the "other," as this is the only way to a peaceful and colorful social fabric.
Last Mod: 24 Ağustos 2007, 09:26
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