Saturday, February 2, 2008


Turkish university heads warn against lifting headscarf ban.

Turkey’s parliament is expected debate the proposed changes to the constitution to allow the headscarf ban to be lifted some time next week.

ANKARA - Turkey will become a religious state if a ban on allowing women to wear the traditional Islamic headscarf while attending higher education courses is lifted, according to representatives of the country’s universities.

A statement issued after an extraordinary meeting of the Interuniversity Board in Ankara Friday said Turkey’s secular regime would be undermined if amendments to the constitution proposed by the government to lift the headscarf ban were implemented.

“These amendments will encourage attempts to abolish the principle of secularism, and in the end, our universities will get away from rationalism and scientific freedom and Turkey will turn into a religious state,” the board said. “It is inaccurate to assume that the changes will only cover university students and the remarks of some executives that headscarf should be allowed in all public institutions confirm our assessment.”

Universities are places where people enjoy scientific freedom, not freedom of belief, the statement said, warning that there was no doubt that real discrimination and unethical behavior will appear after the headscarf ban was lifted.

“We think that these legal changes will affect all academic studies and the acquisitions of the Republic will be lost with these changes,” the board said.

The board issued a warning to the members of the commission who had prepared the draft constitutional amendment allowing for the lifting of the headscarf ban, along with those who sport these views and who remain silent, that the proposed changes would abolish the secular order and harm the educational peace in Turkey’s universities.

Women not satisfied with headscarf criteria

The women who have been fighting for headscarf are not satisfied: "they should stop playing games on us. This adjustment makes discrimination legal."

Women organizations fighting for freedom of headscarf wearing did not find satisfactory the constitutional law amendment agreed by MHP and AKP. The women defend that this formula will create a control mechanism at university gates and will mark women. The women wanted an adjustment to make them equal with other citizens in this country.

Zeynep Göknil Piyade from Başkent Platform said: "we do not want this to be limited to only education. What's going to happen in business life? Will the women wearing headscarf go abroad to wear headscarf while working? This ban should be lifted completely. Everyone should accept that it is against democracy and human rights. They should quit playing games on us."

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