European Union Official-Try Ombudsman For Turkey

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.