Headscarves in parliament, Turkey's long debate

Women in Turkey were banned from wearing headscarves in parliament after a military coup ousted the late Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan on 28 February 1997. However, after the present Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed Turkey’s new ‘democratization packet’ two weeks ago, the ban was officially lifted.

Headscarves in parliament, Turkey's long debate

World Bulletin / News Desk

Women in Turkey were banned from wearing headscarves in parliament after a military coup ousted the late Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan on 28 February 1997. However, after the present Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed Turkey’s new ‘democratization packet’ two weeks ago, the ban was officially lifted.

This is a big step since Merve Kavakci, a headscarved woman who was elected into parliament in 1999, was expelled following protests against her attire at her oath hearing.14 years on, however, Turkey is now prepared to accept headscarved women into the parliament.

Turkey’s main political parties have all shared their views on this new development, with some supportive of the move, whereas others have signaled to their subtle disapproval.

No opinion has been more anticipated than that of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), who has traditionally supported the ban. In response to a question regarding the prospect of a headscarved minister, party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu was quoted as saying ‘we have no problem with this…however, this state has a constitutional character, and that constitutional character has rules,’ he said, before adding ‘everyone must follow the rules, just as we do already.’ Mentioning that he supports the right of headscarved women to vote and be elected, Kilicdaroglu also voiced his concern over the issue being blown out of proportion above other matters.

The leader of Turkey’s right-wing MHP, Devlet Bahceli, also showed his support saying ‘we already have (headscarved women) in the prime minister’s office, why shouldn’t we have them in the parliament?’

Pervin Buldan, a representative of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish separatist Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) said ‘this is important for women. In Turkey thousands of women wear the headscarf…it does not suit Turkey to obstruct them in the 21st century.’ The BDP representative also said ‘everyone should have the right to dress, talk and think as they please.’

As for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), they are expected to lead the way by introducing headscarved ministers in the parliament. It is believed that some women in the party who are expected to return from the holy city of Mecca, where they performed the Hajj pilgrimage, will return to parliament with the headscarf.

Already a female member of the MHP, Meral Aksener, who has also returned from the pilgrimage, has posted pictures of herself on Twitter wearing the headscarf, although it is not clear whether or not she intends to wear it in parliament.

Last Mod: 23 Ekim 2013, 17:41
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