Tag Archives: headscarf ban

Headscarf War In Bellgium

For some strange reason, many European nations believe what a girl wears on her head is among the greatest issues confronting their societies. Many Muslim girls in Antwerp protested when the Royal Atheneum school joined the rest of the city in banning Muslim girls from wearing a headscarf. In Belgium, schools decide whether or not to allow this issue to become an issue by banning or not banning the headscarf. The ban policy began in Roman Catholic schools which forced many Muslim girls to enter public schools in order to remain true to their religion.

One Muslim girl has filed a complaint with the Belgian Council of State which previously had said such bans were only legal if all Flemish schools agreed to the ban. Flemish schools have also issued a ban on the Jewish yarmulka and Christian crosses. The unanswered question is what is the end goal of these bans? What is the problem!!

Turkish Headscarf Issue Continues Dividing Nation

The proposal by a commission which is revising Turkey’s constitution to insert a one sentence statement that would allow women to wear a headscarf while attending universities continues to arouse strong passions. The opposition Nationalist Movement Party offered a compromise that might avoid tearing the nation apart over the one sentence statement. Under its proposal, the fourth clause of Article 10 of the Constitution would be amended to read: “the state organs and the administration units must abide by the equality before the law principle in introducing and utlizing public services.” The MHP argues this could then be interpreted to allow women to wear a headscarf while attending a university.

Prime Minister Erdogan of the Justice and Development Party, which has a strong Muslim orientation, is under pressure from his grass roots supporters to end the ban on headscarves. He indicated willingness to go along with any solution that ended the ban regardless of how it was worded. However, secular opposition groups insisted the ban must be kept in order to ensure Turkey does not fall under rule of an Islamic group that would impose its version of the Muslim religion upon the entire nation. The outside world may well be confused about the intense emotions aroused by the headscarf issue. For secular Turks it is a bedrock issue because they fear pressure being exerted on secular Muslim women to wear a headscarf. It appears, in one way or another, there will be an end to the ban. The issue illustrates the genius of those who wrote the American Constitution. They avoided getting into too many specifics. Does the issue of the headscarf belong in the Constitution is a question Turks may well wonder about.

Headscarf Ban In Turkey May Be Ended

The controversial ban on females wearing headscarves in Turkish universities may be coming to an end. A draft of the new constitution contains the following line: “No one can be debarred of his or her right to higher education because of his or her attire.” According to Prime Minister Erdogan, “wearing a headscarf could not be banned even if it is used as a political symbol.” The headscarf ban was introduced in the 1990s as a way to combat militant religious groups which were attempting to intimidate secular females from going without head coverings. Appeals in th 1990s to the European Coourt of Human Rights were rejected on the ground a government had a right to pass such laws in order to protect its citizens.

There was extensive debate among members of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party about ending the headscarf ban, but the decision was made to pursue the matter. Many secular groups in Turkey fear allowing headscarves will embolden religious groups to exert pressure on secular females to go along with wearing one in order to avoid nasty confrontations. Obviously, it will be up to universities to ensure the rights of secular students must be protected from religious harassment.

Another controversial statement in the constitution maintains the concept of compulsory religious classes in schools. Even some members of Erdogan’s party wanted this proviso out because it will create problems when Turkey submits its application to enter the European Union. Most probably the EU will insist on assurances the rights of non-Muslims are protected in schools. The draft constitution did slightly open possibilities for Kurdish to be used as a the language of instruction in some cases.

Overall, the new constitution addresses concerns of religious fundamentalists, but, hopefully, it also protects the rights of secular Turks and Kurds.