Freely: lesser-known facts about the Turkish headscarf ban

Maureen Freely: Cover Stories from Comment is Free

Maureen Freely (translator of Orhan Pamuk’s books, who has spent a fair amount of time in Turkey) on the politics behind the recent move by the Turkish parliament to remove the ban on women’s wearing the headscarf in universities in Turkey:

There are many shades of secularism in Turkey. But the most dominant variety puts great faith in the army. It sees the army’s involvement in the day-to-day running of the state as necessary, even essential, for only the army can protect the republic from its many enemies. For it is not just the Islamists the army keeps at bay. It is also the Kurds, and the Armenians, and (increasingly) Europe. Turkey’s militarist-secularists have a very limited faith in democracy. They condone or even applaud laws that make it an offence to insult Turkishness or the memory of Ataturk. What they are defending here is not democracy or feminism but the state’s right to decide what women wear.

She also notes that the women who are so scared about being “bullied” by scarf-wearing women may well be afraid of those women getting even on them, since many of them were spat on and otherwise harassed during the 1990s by secularists, and that no law has ever been passed to keep Islamist men out of the universities (same twisted brand of pseudo-feminism as was on display in France, then).

The comment from “WestToEast” is also worth reading.

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