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Time Ripe for Headscarved Deputies in Turkish Parliament

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TEHRAN, March 26 (ICANA) – Many parts of society have begun to loudly voice their demand for the election of a headscarf-wearing deputy or deputies to Parliament in the June 12 general elections.
Saturday, March 26, 2011 10:52:16 PM
Time Ripe for Headscarved Deputies in Turkish Parliament

Since Turkey’s first headscarf-wearing deputy, Merve Kavakçı, was thrown out of Parliament amid protests against her headscarf in 1999, no headscarf-wearing candidates have run in the elections.

Turkey has undergone groundbreaking changes over the few past years, curbing the political influence of Turkey’s powerful military, the biggest supporter of the headscarf ban, and transforming it into a more democratic state respecting human rights. Now, many circles say it is high time for Turkey to elect headscarf-wearing deputies as representatives for the 60 percent of Turkish women who wear such attire. The Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (TÜSİAD) also voiced its support for headscarved deputies in Parliament, while the secular main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) said it will not cause any difficulty in the event of a headscarved deputy being elected to the legislature. Let’s see whether this great public demand will be fulfilled and if Turkey will have headscarved deputies following the general elections in June.

In consideration of the extensive support from different circles of society and the welcoming move from the CHP, Bugün’s Gülay Göktürk says we can hope that Turkey will bury another ban in history at this year’s general elections and remove another hurdle before the normalization of politics. “I wish to see headscarved women who have gained great political experience and awareness during Turkey’s process of political transformation in Parliament and congratulate them for their efforts,” says Göktürk. She thinks headscarf-wearing women’s resistance to the internalization of the headscarf ban in Turkey, despite being exhausted and oppressed for years, has caused many to admit that these women were treated unjustly. “By reminding people of their existence and victimization due to the headscarf ban, these women continued to disturb consciences,” says Göktürk. She also focuses on a statement made by some Justice and Development Party (AK Party) officials who recently said, “The time for headscarf-wearing deputies has not yet come,” saying this approach indicates a shortcoming on their part.

“It seems that AK Party officials lag behind the public on this issue. They were mistaken in telling headscarved women to wait, belittling them. They were not able to correctly read the social change that made even the CHP give up its support of the headscarf ban. This is a significant danger for a reformist party,” says Göktürk.

Sabah’s Nazlı Ilıcak voices her support of the “We want headscarved deputies” initiative that was launched by a group of women, including journalists, representatives of nongovernmental organizations and activists early this week, in addition to addressing the results of an opinion survey, which revealed overwhelming support for scarf-wearing deputies.

The poll, which was conducted by the MetroPOLL Strategic and Social Research Center, revealed that an overwhelming majority of the Turkish population, 78.1 percent of respondents, favors the election of headscarved women to Parliament, while 19.5 percent said headscarf-wearing women should not become deputies. “When the results of this poll are considered with TÜSİAD’s report, I can say that the path before headscarf-wearing deputies will be cleared, if not in the June 12 general elections, then the following ones. God knows, perhaps I will become a deputy with Kavakçı at that time again,” says Ilıcak, who was also a deputy in 1999 and accompanied Kavakçı before she was thrown out of Parliament. (todayszaman.com)

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