Tag Archives: headscarf

Can One Wear A Headscarf And Be For Secularism?

From President Nicholas Sarkozy to left leaning politicians, the word these days in France is the wearing of a headscarf automatically indicates one is against secularism and for the oppression of women. Olier Bescanenot, head of the recently formed, “New Anti-Capitalist Party(NPA) has decided to run a Muslim woman in a legislative district despite the fact she wears a headscarf. Ilham Moussaid, argues wearing the headscarf has nothing to do with her political and religious beliefs which include support for abortion rights, secularism and equal rights for women. However, many feminists are furious at the selection because they do not believe any woman who wears a headscarf can be a true feminist.

The headscarf debate reminds me of the sixties when people became furious at individuals who wore long hair and claimed they were anti-American and were attempting to destroy freedom in the country. What in hell does wearing a headscarf have to do with female rights if THE WOMAN VOLUNTARILY CHOOSES TO WEAR ONE!! Yes, millions of Muslim women are compelled by spouse or society to wear one, but Ilham Moussaid wants to wear it. As she puts it, “I am not oppressed.” Ironically, in denying her the right to wear what she desires, I believe feminists are denying her right to be an individual.

Prophet And Headscarves In Turkey!

Although Turkey is mainly a Muslim nation and is governed by the Justice and Development Party(AKP) which is centered in conservative Muslim beliefs, the military still adheres to Ataturk’s more secular views for the nation. A discussion in Parliament soon degenerate into a fist fight when AKP deputies expressed anger at refusal of the military to show respect for the wife of Prime Minister Erdogan. “How dare you not allow the wife of a prime minister who is accepted as a prophet to the Gulhane Military Academy of Medicine? Who do you think you are? Opposition deputies were furious at the use of a word like, “prophet” to describe the prime minister. Erdogan got into the battle by bluntly stating, ‘My wife was not allowed to visit a patient because of her headscarf.”

Year after year secular and religious factions in Turkey argue and shout about the presence of the headscarf in their daily lives. The military continues adhering to the policy which for decades forbid wearing the headscarf in public institutions in order to maintain the secular nature of the nation. Surely, there must be a middle ground on this issue.

Headscarf War Continues In Turkey

Turkey is not the United States or Germany or France so many Turks might resent comparisons between their nation and other societies. Turkey’s historic development differs markedly from those of other nations and the fight to separate church and state has its own Turkish flavor. College students registering for the fall term in Turkey who wore a headscarf were not allowed to enter university buildings in order to register. They were compelled to take off the head covering in order to get into classes. The headscarf ban began in the 1980s in an attempt by the military to make clear to Islamists their nation was dedicated to secular principles.

Twenty years have passed and both secular and religious groups live in peace. Perhaps, it is time to reconsider the ban and identify new ways to guarantee secular rights without dealing with supposedly symbolic issues like what head garment is worn. Surely, there is the possibility of protecting both religious and secular rights.

Amnesty International has been pleased with positive moves on the part of the Turkish government to foster human rights. Irene Khan, speaking for AI, said the decision not to close down political parties, to initiate an investigation of military attempts to subvert the rule of law, and an apparent desire to open new possibilities of respecting the rights of Kurdish citizens are signs there is a willingness to foster the rule of law. Ms. Kahn supported the Erdogan government’s attempt to allow women to wear a headscarf while attending university classes. According to Ms. Kahn, Amnesty International regards the decision to wear or not wear a headscarf relates to “freedom of expression and freedom of religion.”

The controversy over the headscarf in Turkey relates to fears on the part of secular leaders that once women wear them in school it might lead to pressure being exerted on all students to wear one. The question is whether banning headscarves is simply another example of the state imposing its will on women as in Saudi Arabia or in Iran where women have to wear certain garments.

The major concern of AI is the presence of laws which restrict what people can say concerning certain topics like the Armenian genocide. Turkey no longer has need for such outdated laws.


The world is experiencing a serious economic crisis, there are wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and many societies are grappling with serious social issues of aging. But, in Denmark, the nation was shocked to learn that a Muslim volunteer for the Home Guard went through the entire training course while wearing a headscarf! Maria Mawla was even featured in a photograph discussing the Home Guard, but unknown to the photographer, she was hiding her headscarf under the helmet. Members of parliament are insisting that since she violated Home Guard rules, this woman must be dismissed from the service. Ulrik Hragh, head of the Home Guard Committee in parliament said: “it was an error that the woman in question was allowed to conduct her courses wearing a headscarf.” He emphasized that regulations must be enforced for security reasons.

I am confused. Ms. Mawla completed her training course, she did what was required to secure a passing grade, but, the Home Guard is up in arms because she wore a headscarf. I suspect her ability to complete assignments and undergo all requirements while wearing a headscarf proves that wearing a headscarf has NOTHING TO DO WITH SUCCESS IN COMPLETING TASKS. If she encountered difficulty, it would be evidence wearing a headscarf got in the way of training.

This is simply a storm in a teacup.

Why Are Turkish Women Abandoning Headscarves?

A columnist for the Turkish newspaper, Hurriyet, created a controversy by claiming there was a trend among Muslim women to abandon the headscarf. He pointe out that the sons of Istanbul’s mayor and a minister in the Cabinet had married women who did not have their head covered as a possible new development. Ahmet Hakan, raised the question: “if conservative men do not marry headscarfed women, who is going to marry them?” The fact such prominent men are willing to marry a woman who does not cover her head suggests that compelling one’s wife to have a headscarf is no longer politically dangerous.

Some critics argue that women who do not wear the headscarf convey a symbol of being a modern woman and this might be beneficial to a political leader who is arguing for change to make Turkey a modern society. Perhaps, it also reflects when a Muslim political party is in power issues such as the headscarf are no longer linked to issues of power. It appears Turkey is moving in the direction of a multi-belief in terms of what women can or can not wear.

Headscarved Deputy In Belgian Local Parliament

As far as this blog writer knows, the Earth is still rotating around the sun, there are clouds in the sky, and humans continue to breathe the air in peace. But, for some who hate Muslims and deplore the idea that Muslim women can freely choose to wear a headscarf, this undoubtedly is a sad day. Mahinu Ozdemir, a 28 year old Muslim woman was freely elected to a local Belgian parliament and will wear the headscarf while doing her job as an elected official. She was one of six Belgians of Turkish heritage to win seats in local parliaments. Opponents claim that pictures of the attractive Ms. Ozdemir did not portray her wearing a headscarf and the entire electoral process was an attempt to dupe the Belgian public.

The issue as to whether Ms. Ozdemir displayed or hid her headscarf is rather irrelevant since anyone knew she was a woman of Muslim background and what she wears on top of her head is really of no concern. Would opponents be upset if a man who wore a beard shaved it off during an election campaign? Why are rules different for women than for men?

Obama Backs Turkey EU Bid To Sarkozy

In his meeting with President Sarkozy of France, Barack Obama urged the admittance of Turkey into the European Union. “I’ve said publicly that I think Turkish membership of the EU would be important. What the US wants to do is just to encourage talks and discussions where Turkey can feel confident that it has a friendship with France, with the United States, and with all of Europe and to the extent that it defines itself that it has an opportunity to be part of that.” The French president has opposed the entry of Turkey which he fears would alter the composition of Europe due to its large Muslim population. Sarkozy has been pushing a Mediterranean Union which would also include Israel and other nations which border the body of water.

The two leaders differed on the issue of Muslim women wearing a headscarf. Obama made clear that in the United States, “our basic attitude is that we’re not going to tell people what to wear.” Sarkozy argued his nation did not wish the headscarf because of national opposition to any form of religious symbols in schools or government offices. He also raised the question as to whether girls were being forced to wear the headscarf due to parental pressure.

At this point, it is none of America’s business how France deals with the headscarf. The important issue right now is working to assist the entry of Turkey into the European Union.

Hat And Head Covering Wars Rage In Turkey!

This reporter has just visited the battle front at Bagozici University where combatants eye one another with hats and head coverings in hand prepared to launch a derby or shawl into the direction of opponents. The university faculty has made clear it will not allow women to enter their sacred classes wearing any hair covering like the chador and even those who try to circumvent rules and regulations by wearing hats are considered to be criminals out to disrupt law and order in the university. School administrators struck a blow for freedom by denying women the right to attend classes wearing a headscarf since it is well known that such head coverings essentially cover up religious strategies to end freedom of speech in universities.

Turkey’s Constitutional Court has ruled that wearing the headscarf violates the nation’s constitution. This writer is not Turkish and is Jewish but quite aware of the historic background surrounding the ban on religious symbols in Turkish education institutions. However, we live in the 21st century at a time of vast economic dislocation and ongoing battles to create a peaceful Middle East. Perhaps, it is time to put aside the famous headscarf issue and just let one’s hair let out. It is doubtful if free speech will end in Turkish universities if some of the speakers are wearing a headscarf. In fact, allowing them to wear the headscarf reinforces the right of all Turkish people to adhere to their own religious and cultural beliefs. Who knows, maybe the Armenians can finally get the rest of the nation to acknowledge what happened to their ancestors and maybe Kurds can finally get freedom of speech.

Covered Or Uncovered– A Head Is A Head

An historian a hundred years from now will undoubtedly shake her head in bewilderment in reading issues we human deemed of great importance in 2009. Among the most hotly debated issues facing a world in which there is famine, war, and destruction, is the presence of something on top of the head of a woman. It reminds one of the classic “hair battles” of the 1960s in which leaders of nations had to take a stand regarding the exact length of hair that fell within the domain of being proper attire. Three Danish lawyers entered a court room wearing a headscarf to protest current discussions in Parliament over a law that would ban political or religious symbols in a court of law. Janus Malcolm Peterson said he wore the headscarf because; “We trust that the judges understand how they should be dressed in court without introducing legislation about it.”

The Judge, to his credit, ignored this childish display of pique over nothing. If the issue is how does one dress in a court of law, then judges ordinarily make such decisions. Of course, it is ridiculous for parliaments to have such discussions, but there is a point in banning all displays of religion in a secular court of law. The entire matter is a storm in a teacup and much ado about nothing. How about dealing with poverty for a few moments?