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Check This: Headscarves in School

Since 1997, women have been constitutionally banned from wearing headscarves in Turkey's universities. Now, Turkey's two major parties, including Islamic-rooted ruling party, have enough votes to overturn the ban. The secular elite, including judges, university officials, and military leaders, do not want to see the banned reversed. Opinion polls, however, demonstrate that a majority of the population would like to see the ban eased, and some women have actually refused to attend university until it is.

Those in favor of the ban fear a blur between church and state. Allowing the headscarf, in their view, will increase religious pressure on noncovered females and their families to cover up. Yet, the proposed changes would come in the form of a compromise. Only traditional scarves would be allowed, and those covering the neck, or the all-covering burkah would not be allowed. Women in the civil service, including teachers, still would not be allowed to wear any headscarves.

Other nations, such as France, have also banned the headscarf in schools. France forbids students from donning conspicuous religious symbols — including the Muslim headscarf and the Christian crucifix. England, on the other hand allows headscarves, for the sake of civil liberties. Perhaps Turkey is in a unique predicament, as it has historically struggled to remain secular.

Do you think that Turkey's ban on headscarves looks like religious oppression or is it a necessary way of protecting Turkey's secular status?


Join The Conversation
totygoliguez totygoliguez 9 years
I think as long as they don't cover the face it should be alowed (because if they cover the face then their is not way of knowing who she is) I don't see nothing wrong with that
minaminamina minaminamina 9 years
Kris - MEN and women in Islam may opt to wear loose-fitting clothing, and a head scarf. If you've ever been in an American city with a sizeable Muslim population, you've probably seen this. If you're ever in a Muslim country, you'll also see this - heck, in Paris, you'll see it every three seconds in the Latin Quarter! I won't disagree that some cultures will force women to cover up - that is not a Muslim practice, that is a cultural and patriarchal practice that needs to end. In the Qur'an, it's specific that any display of faith, including your interpretation of modesty, must be voluntary - a pact between you and God.
nyaradzom2001 nyaradzom2001 9 years
i would just like to ask how many islamic schools there are in Europe and the US?? We have Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Orthodox schools and I've heard of schools for Hindis but really none for muslims so it's not as easy to register your child in a religious school if you are islamic is it? I mean weren't there protests about the opening of an arabic school in New York. We were allowed to wear crucifixes, rosaries, the various saints medals if you were catholic, but you could only pick one to wear and you stuck to it. The muslim girls weare allowed to wear long skirts and to cover their heads if they chose and there was never a problem, our school was multi demonitational and proud of it. People are getting overly sensitive about a religion or the implications of a religion they haven't studied or been a part of. Let it go.
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
I have mixed feelings. I feel it is a harmless expression of culture, as Ilanac13said. But inherently it is oppressive to me. According to most explanations, the headscarf is worn for modesty. what is immodest about your neck? and Hair? and feminine facial features? It's a way for men in a society to blame women for their actions and everything that goes wrong. A way to say "your beauty and feminine features are too much for me. They tempt me, and lead me astray. You'd better cover them up, because they can cause trouble." I had a really Christian boyfriend give me a similar argument once. He acted like I was just too enticing, and somehow had corrupted him by leading him to do things that were morally wrong before marriage. (which by the way, was kissing). Uh, buddy, you're the one that came on to me. I accepted, because I see nothing wrong with it. Don't blame ME for your actions. It was a classic "blame Eve" kind of story.
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
i thin thast sometimes people take things to extremes. wearing a headscarf is just a way to observe your culture. it's like orthodox women wearing long skirts. i hope that the ban is overturned. this is a harmless expression of culture
LibertySugar LibertySugar 9 years
Thank you Advah for your different perspective and thoughtful explanation!
Advah Advah 9 years
Minaminamina, you said "in French Catholic schools, nuns are still allowed their habits, so why would students not be permitted the same right?" Well they are permitted the same right, in *Catholic schools*. In France you can register your child either in a religious school, or in a state, *atheist* school. At the beginning of every school year, pupils have to sign an agreement saying that they'll respect the teachers and other pupils, have rights, and recognise the school to be *atheist*. Yes you can wear discreet religious symbols such as crucifix, star of David or any other symbols as pendants if they want, but any obvious religious symbol is banned. Wearing a headscarf also conflicts with the fact that having something covering your head in a classroom is seen as a sign of disrespct for the teacher: you are not allowed to wear yarmulke (also because it's religious) or hats or baseballcaps in a classroom. Unfortunately people tend to focus on this as an anti-muslim movement, although it is not. I went to school in France, and I appreciate the fact that within the school students are all on the same level (for me it's like British pupils wearing uniforms so that financial differences are not too obvious) - it doesn't mean you have to pretend you're atheist, you can still express your faith and beliefs. I also see that as an opportunity for a child who is forced my his/her family into a religion/cult s/he doesn't agree with (please note I'm not talking about Islam specifically, but any faith), to be who s/he wants to be during these hours. And finally, you can always register your child in a religious school - a lot of Catholic and Protestant families do that when they want their child to receive a religious education and attend mass at school.
JuliusCaesar JuliusCaesar 9 years
As a headscarf wearing, university student I do find this oppressive. I'd hate to have to choose between following my faith and getting an education.
janneth janneth 9 years
Oppressive, oppressive, oppressive.
minaminamina minaminamina 9 years
I don't care what someone's religious symbols are - in French Catholic schools, nuns are still allowed their habits, so why would students not be permitted the same right? And in France, it is LARGE crucifixes that are banned - i.e. the ones a priest or nun might wear, if you're familiar with Catholicism. It's unfair to ban what Muslims who choose to wear head coverings view as their modesty. In Islam, men AND women may choose to wear a mere headscarf - or even a burqa... depends on their culture of origin and their personal comfort level. Orthodox Jews wear much the same sorts of coverings, as do many Christian sects throughout the world (and even in America). I think there's a difference between praying in school and merely preserving one's perception of modesty and faith - it's not being forced onto anyone, so the ban in Turkey on headscarves in universities is absolutely oppressive.
sophia_HL sophia_HL 9 years
I think the head scarf is fine... but it starts to get odd when they cover their whole faces. Once I saw two women (I assume they were women) shopping- they were entirely covered and even wore sunglasses. It kind of freaked me out not to be able to see the person.
meumitsuki meumitsuki 9 years
Jude C put it very eloquently, but perhaps the Turkish elite are afraid of the "slippery slope" prospect. If there are enough votes to overturn the ban, this could eventually lead to an erosion of women's rights. Head scarves being allowed, to head scarves required, to full facial covering..... I know that seems counter-intuitive, a rule that limits freedom helping to safeguard it, but since a religious ruling party has alot of power, it could slowly take away the freedom of women. I actually think the compromise would be the way to go.
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
Sounds oppressive to me. The peaceful expression of religion should not be banned in a free society.
isahrangme isahrangme 9 years
At first glance, it seems oppresive to me. But then again, I've grown up in a country that allows religious freedom and has been doing PRETTY OKAY about separating church and state. I don't know what it was like in Turkey before... And I guess when I think about the other countries in that area where church and state are very close, I think it is great that Turkey is trying to keep the two separated, because those other countries seem to oppress other religions AS WELL AS many other freedoms that should be granted to all humans. So really, it's about the lesser of two evils to me. I think it sucks that the ban seems necessary to separate church and state in order to preserve more important human rights, but if the ban is necessary to prevent what I consider the worser evil, then I think the ban should stick.
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
A public school should be just that: Public. As long as it doesn't interfere with education, it shouldn't be prohibited. Of course, my religion requires that I go to school naked.
tiff58 tiff58 9 years
I agree with Jillness- it definitely seems oppressive at first glance. I mean, women should be able to wear what they want, right? But, I don't know the history behind it.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
I think it is oppressive, but I don't know if there was a lot of related violence that lead to these restrictions. I think that if a person is wearing the headdress it should be ok. As long as it isn't a part of a military uniform or government sanctioned, I don't see the need to be afraid of a seperation between church and state.
honeycreepshow honeycreepshow 9 years
I, personally, think it's oppressive. I'm a high school student and we have a lot of Muslim students who wear headscarves to school. It's perfectly fine. It doesn't bother me. It's like a Christian student wearing a cross necklace to school. I don't think allowing people to wear headscarves will threaten their secularism, it's just an issue of religious freedom.
Princesskitty22 Princesskitty22 9 years
I think that as long as a woman makes the choice to wear a headdress, she should be able to. I understand that they want to remain secular, but I don't think that they should deny these women their right to express their religious beliefs.
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