Saturday, February 9, 2008

Getting emotional over a head scarf

“This decision will bring further pressure on women,” said Nesrin Baytok, a deputy from the opposition secular party, during the debate in parliament. “It will ultimately bring us Hezbollah terror, Al Qaeda terror, and fundamentalism.”

Another deputy from that party, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, said the group would take the amendments to Turkey’s Constitutional Court, a pro-secular institution that is likely to rule against Mr. Erdogan. It must wait until the changes are approved by the president and published in the official state newspaper, a process of as many as two weeks.

The head scarf ban, and the attempt to repeal it by Mr. Erdogan’s governing party, has become one of the most emotional issues in Turkey. Though the terms of the debate revolve around religion, at its heart it is a struggle for power between a rising, increasingly wealthy middle class of observant Turks, on one side, and a secular elite, backed by the military and judiciary, on the other. The head scarf is their battleground.

It’s all about power,” said Jenny B. White, a professor of anthropology at Boston University who has been writing about Turkey since the 1970’s. “It’s about who gets to decide what Turkey’s image and emblematic lifestyle will be. Islam is the lightening rod for all the fears and concerns.”

-Turkey’s Parliament Votes to Lift Head Scarf Ban

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