There is scant doubt a majority of people in Turkey favor a more religious tone to government and society, but at least 40% of the population wants to preserve secular rights. Turkey’s Justice and Development Party just announced its plans to survey the population concerning its ideas about a host of issues such as wearing the headscarf to teaching religion in schools. As one opposition leader, Hikmet Sami Turk, put it: “the state doesn’t carry out surveys. They are done by research institutions. It has not been a common instrument in Turkey.” Most opponents of the government believe the survey will reveal a strong under-current of religion and then use results in order to push through changes in the nation’s Constitution in order to make religion more prominent. Most probably their will be changes in the current law which forbids women to wear a headscarf while teaching, attending college or working in government offices.
Secular rights will not tumble if the ban on headscarves is repealed. The real issue is ensuring that secular rights are preserved in schools and in the nation’s Constitution. Anything less will destroy any opportunity for Turkey to enter the European Union.