The aftermath of Turkey’s Constitutional Court decision which invalidated a parliament action in lifting the ban on women wearing a headscarf continues to bitterly divide the nation. Ahmet Iyimaya, of the ruling Justice and Development Party(AKP) which pushed through the end of the ban, proposed parliamentary action which would invalidate the Constitutional Court’s decision. He is proposing a constitutional amendment which allows Parliament to suspend decisions of the Constitutional Court. There has been no indication from AKP leaders of support for his proposal.
However, the opposition Republican People’s Party(CHP) vigorously opposed any such action which, in effect, ends the concept of an independent judiciary by making the Constitutional Court an ineffectual body.
This is a situation in which opposing sides each raise valid concerns. The right of women who wear a headscarf requires some process which would allow them to attend a university while still respecting the rights of secular women not to be intimidated for refusing to wear one. This is the crux of the entire debate. Secular Turkish women fear allowing wearing a headscarf at the university is the first step toward making it mandatory at secondary schools. They worry about peer pressure on young girls that will end up in all girls wearing a headscarf throughout the education system. Unless the concerns of both sides are respected this controversy will continue.