PM's Wife Exemplifies Balance Between "Piety and Modernity"

August 22, 2004

Source: Los Angeles Times,1,4129108.story?coll=la-news-religion

On August 22, 2004 the Los Angeles Times reported, "Even as she reaches out to observant Muslims, Emine Erdogan has sought to overcome the distrust of Turkey's fiercely pro-secular elite, who see her head scarf as an unmistakable symbol of Islamic militancy. In a country struggling to calibrate the influence of religion in public life while seeking to become the European Union's first predominantly Muslim member, she is uniquely positioned to prove that piety and modernity can coexist, analysts say. Turkey's laws forbid Islamic-style headwear in government offices and public and private schools. Spurred on by Turkey's fiercely pro-secular military leaders, President Ahmet Necdet Sezer has kept Emine Erdogan off his guest list when entertaining foreign dignitaries... Erdogan's exclusion has won praise from Westernized Turks, who dislike being represented by a woman who they say projects a backward image of their country. A defiant Erdogan continues to maintain a high public profile nonetheless, accompanying her husband on most of his foreign trips, including one to Washington this year."