Headscarf Issues Must Be Resolved

Professor Elizabeth Ozdalga, a well-known sociologist, urges resolution of the headscarf issue which has created extensive tension and division within Turkish society. The constitutional amendment to deal with the issue and allow women at universities to wear a headscarf was cancelled by the Constitutional Court earlier this year. Professor Ozdalga, believes the headscarf issue must be seen within a wider perspective pertaining to issues of democracy and freedom of expression within her nation. She argues the extent of religiosity in Turkish society is exaggerated which results in a smaller group being able to generate controversy by using the headscarf issue as one which is of critical importance.

Professor Ozdalga is raising an important issue concerning the headscarf. On one hand, believers in democracy should support the right of women to wear whatever they desire. On the other hand, if the headscarf is the symbol of radical fundamentalist Muslims, the issue shifts. The question raised by the professor is whether or not the headscarf is really of the significance to which secularists have come to believe.