Turkey Struggles With Headscarf And Political Closure

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.

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