Turkish Women in Universities Regain Right to Wear Hijab

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Middle East
Wednesday, 05 January 2011


turky_hijabIt is estimated that at least 60% of Turkish women cover their heads. The ban was implemented as part of an effort to secularize university spaces. Students were forced to wear wigs or large hats to avoid going bare-headed. Other women simply went abroad to study.

In 2007 Emine Erdogan, the wife of the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was blocked from entering a military hospital after
The main opposition party, the secular CHP - previously a strong supporter of the university ban - wanted to negotiate its end with the government, but was denied the chance. But the party has vowed to maintain the ban on civil servants wearing headscarves.

"The reason why we don't allow a headscarf for, say a judge, is that it is a symbol of religion. The state should be impartial to race, religion, everything," says Hursit Gunes, a deputy secretary-general of the party.

A Human Rights Watch report released in 2004 concluded that the headscarf ban ultimately stifled academic freedom, forcing the resignation of female professors and preventing some women from attending universities at all. "The Turkish authorities say they want to protect women who choose not to wear the headscarf," said Rachel Denber of the HRW. "But bullying women out of higher education because of the way they choose to dress is a poor way to protect women’s freedoms."

">  refusing to remove her headscarf. The Prime Minister tried to overturn the ban in 2008, through a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to education. It passed through parliament, but was thrown out by the Constitutional Court. But this year, with the momentum behind him after winning the constitutional referendum in September the government ended the ban.

The main opposition party, the secular CHP - previously a strong supporter of the university ban - wanted to negotiate its end with the government, but was denied the chance. But the party has vowed to maintain the ban on civil servants wearing headscarves.

"The reason why we don't allow a headscarf for, say a judge, is that it is a symbol of religion. The state should be impartial to race, religion, everything," says Hursit Gunes, a deputy secretary-general of the party.

A Human Rights Watch report released in 2004 concluded that the headscarf ban ultimately stifled academic freedom, forcing the resignation of female professors and preventing some women from attending universities at all. "The Turkish authorities say they want to protect women who choose not to wear the headscarf," said Rachel Denber of the HRW. "But bullying women out of higher education because of the way they choose to dress is a poor way to protect women’s freedoms."

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