Turkey: Erdogan and the headscarf

sept 07 turkish daily news

... the social pressures may be equally punishing. The other week, some Justice and Development Party (AKP) bigwig (an MP who sits in AKP’s politburo) said that it was quite normal if businessmen forced their wives to put on the turban if they wanted to win government contracts. “They should put themselves in order if they want contracts,” the man said quite honestly. The choice is yours: Look and behave like one of us and you may flourish, or otherwise ...

“The right to higher education cannot be restricted because of what a girl wears.” How can anyone with any sense of fairness object to that? But once again, Mr. Erdoğan is opting for a deceptive rhetoric.

Now, read that line once again. It says “[…] what a girl wears.” If Mr Erdo
ğan really means it he is the true liberal reformist he says he is. But does he? In recent articles I have given quite a number of examples that “what(ever) a girl wears” is not Mr. Erdoğan’s concern. I guess I must repeat them in honor of Mr. Erdoğan’s most recent words on the turban.

Would Mr. Erdoğan’s argument based on that “what(ever) a girl wears” also include a campus girl in Satanist or Goth attire? Or an attire featuring atheist slogans? Catholic missionary slogans? Or, on the non-religious front, a t-shirt depicting the prime minister as a bird, a snake, a cat? Well, we already know that Mr. Erdoğan would sue. How about a girl in a t-shirt asking Mr. Erdoğan: “Whose prime minister are you?” We know that he would sue that girl, too.

Dress freedom on campuses in general is none of Mr. Erdoğan’s concerns. He is semiotically trying to bring back one of the two headwears Mustafa Kemal semiotically disposed of.