Headscarf Controversy Seen as Political

February 25, 2004

Source: BBC News


On February 25, 2004 the BBC News reported, "As France pushed ahead with its planned school headscarf ban, in Turkey the issue has been the subject of impassioned debate for more than 20 years. Turkey is often held up as a model of Islamic democracy. The separation of public secular identity from private religious practice is fiercely defended by the country's powerful military. It's a separation which many here in Turkey are keen to show the world. They want to present a country which is secular, modern and Western...[b]ut that image does not reflect the whole of Turkey. In fact, it is estimated that as many as 65% of Turkish women cover their heads with a scarf. But women wearing headscarves are not allowed to enter state-controlled areas such as schools, universities, or government offices. Since 1997, when the ban came to be more strictly enforced, growing numbers of these women have been travelling abroad to pursue a university education."