Main opposition leader: No one can now exploit headscarf issue

Turkish main opposition leader said in a party assembly meeting on Sunday that his party “made history” in Parliament this week.

Main opposition leader: No one can now exploit headscarf issue

The leader of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has said the era in which the ruling party had been exploiting the headscarf issue is now over after his party showed restraint when four headscarved lawmakers entered Parliament on Thursday, breaking a de facto restriction.

Kemal Kılıcdaroglu said in a party assembly meeting on Sunday that his party “made history” in Parliament this week by displaying only peaceful opposition to the headscarved deputies.

The Turkish public was captivated on Thursday as four headscarved ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputies entered Parliament, fearing the repetition of a chaotic scene in a similar situation in 1999.

Amid angry protests and boos, headscarved İstanbul lawmaker Merve Kavakçı was forced out of Parliament for wearing a headscarf during her swearing-in ceremony in that year.

Bulent Ecevit, the prime minister at the time, addressed the packed assembly, saying, "This is not the place to challenge the state. Inform this woman of her limits!” while half the chamber stood shouting: "Get out! Get out!" to the seated Kavakcı.

Kavakcı left in tears. She was not only dismissed from Parliament but was also stripped of her citizenship. Moreover, the Constitutional Court considered her wearing a headscarf in Parliament as evidence of a violation of secularism in the closure case of her party, the Virtue Party (FP) in 2001.

Yet, Turkish Parliament showed a pro-freedom stance toward headscarved deputies on Thursday, invalidating fears of a repetition of the Kavakçı incident.

Following the beginning of the parliamentary session, deputy group chairmen of each party in Parliament made short speeches in which they expressed their views about the existence of headscarved deputies in Parliament.

Speaking on behalf of the CHP, Muharrem Ince, the party's deputy group chairman, received loud applause from the AK Party ranks when he said all women, either wearing headscarves or not, are his sisters. Another CHP deputy, Şafak Pavey, also spoke on the CHP's behalf, criticizing the government for failing in deepening other freedoms.

Kılıcdaroglu welcomed both speeches and thanked the deputies for displaying the opposition party's position in a measured manner.

Kılıcdaroglu said the AK Party members and the pro-government media were waiting to attack the CHP for its anticipated opposition to the headscarves.

“CHP members took their seats in Parliament, made their speeches and this truth came out: As the CHP, we don't find it appropriate to do politics over women,” Kılıcdaroglu said.

He added that his party believes in gender equality and the CHP was responsible for women's right to run for office. He said no one will now be able to exploit the issue of the headscarf, although government supporters were waiting for the moment.

Cihan

Last Mod: 03 Kasım 2013, 14:41
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