Olli Rehn of the European Union urged Turkey to establish an ombudsman system in order to handle the controversial headscarf issue which has torn apart the nation. He recognized an important issue in Turkey is balancing secular and religious concerns and these might be best resolved by having an ombudsman who deals with indivdual cases of human rights. “What I mean is an ombudsman which will settle citizens’s small-scale complaints without leading to lawsuits or questioning of democratic principles in the country.” He noted Turkey had the most restrictive laws about wearing the headscarf of any European nation and in its application for membership allowing wearing the headscarf would not be a major issue.
Rehn emphasized that Turkey should be focusing on ways to bring together both secular and religious sectors of society in order to handle any outstanding issues without creating a constitutional crisis. Certainly, the issue of wearing or not wearing a headscarf in a university can be resolved in such a manner as to protect individual rights without upsetting the secular basis of Turkish society.
The decision by the Chief Prosecutor to close down the Justice and Development Party(AKP) has resulted in a quiet shift from concern over issues regarding wearning the headscarf to those pertaining to the very fabric of a democratic society. Secular forces in Turkey believe the AKP and its support for allowing women to wear a headscarf in the university reflect a desire to establish a Muslim society in Turkey that would be centered around Sharia law. chief Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya’s decision to request a ruling by the Constitutional Court to close down the AKP came just after parliament voted to end the ban against wearing the headscarf.
Omer Faruk Grgenioglu, chair of the Association of Huma nRights and Solidarity for Oppressed People, termed both closure and refusing to allow women the right to wear the headscarf to be “a violation of human rights and freedoms.” His organization has been working to resolve the headscarf issue so it no longer is of concern to either secularists or those with deep religious values.
One can recognize deep concerns on the part of secularists in Turkey, particularly fears once the headscarf is allowed in universities, it will soon be followed by becoming the norm in high schools. This is a legitimate fear. However, people of good will can work through such issues without going the route of closing down political parties. It is time for a joint commission representing both views to come up with a solution that alleviates fears on the part of all parties.
The world is confronting a devastating food crisis, energy costs keep rising, millions of children throughout the planet are working or lack access to a school, but the people of Denmark have undoubtedly identified a major concern facing humanity– the headscarf! A large majority of Danish people indicated they oppose allowing a female Danish judge to wear a headscarf. The Danish govlernment is taking action to halt a recent decision by the Court Administration which said it was OK for a female judge to have her head covered with a headscarf. Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen made known his strong oppositon to the ruling. Justice Minister Lene Esperson said: “Citizens are very conscious that a court of law shuld be impartial. The people won’t accept that political conviction or religion is allowed to reign over a place dedicated to strict, neutral decision making.”
Poll results indicated among those aged 18-25 nearly 75% said it made no difference to them what was on the head of a judge while only 16% of those over 65 had similar feelings.
There is an assumption that wearing a headscarf is a political statement which indicates strong bias on the part of a Muslim female judge. Unless, the case involved wearing a headscarf, what exactly is the poltical statement made by wearing a headscarf? One can assume many Danish judges wear a cross or a star under their shirt or blouse. Does the cross or star reflect a bias that would play out against a defendant?
It is time for European society to cease engaging in much ado about nothing and cease creating these storms in a teacup issues.
P.S. Out of curiosity, exactly how many Danish judges are female Muslims who wear a headscarf? Just asking.