Turkey Divides Over Headscarf Decision

The Turkish nation is still divided over the issue of should women be allowed to wear a headscarf while attending university classes. The Constitutional Court has ruled wearing a headscarf in universities violates the secular spirit of the Constitution. The ruling Justice and Development Party undoubtedly made a serious mistake by not working harder prior to introrducing legislation ending the ban to ensure secular people in society recognized it was only aimed at one place– the university. There was need for more extensive dialogue and reaching out to secular leaders. Many secular people fear once the headscarf ban ends, Muslim groups will begin exerting pressure on women to wear one in the university and then pressure will be exerted on secondary school girls to wear the headscarf. The issue has become a symbol of religious intolerance.

Esra Altinay Ozbecetek reflected the spirit of those Muslim women who wish to wear a headscarf by saying, “I’m crushed and feel hopeless. I really don’t feel equal to anybody else in this country anymore.” How does a society respect the feelings of those with differing views? We believe the Turkish government has to be more proactive in offering secular Turks their rights will not be abused.