Anyone who follows the news in Turkey can attest to the fact that the biggest thing in the news lately is the recent parliamentary vote to ease restrictions of the Muslim Headscarf on university campuses. Prior to this vote, it was forbidden to enter all government buildings (including university classrooms) with one’s head covered. The ban has been lifted, but only for universities.
You can read a full recap of the issue here
I’ve been trying to think of a unique angle on this. I thought it’d be interesting to interview a couple of university students, from different sides of the issue, and see what they have to say about it. I asked a regular reader of this blog last weekend if he’d be willing to share his thoughts. I thought his perspective would be particularly interesting because I know he voted for AK Party in the elections last summer. It seems that I rarely meet someone who supports the ruling AK Party, so Ersin’s thought are of particular interest to me.
Hi Ersin, can you please introduce yourself. Where did you grow up? What do you do? What are you studying? What are your interests?
Hi , My name is Ersin. I have been living in Adana since i was born. I am a student at a private university. I am studying international relations. My interests are photoghrapy, politics, different cultures, football and music.
Ersin, I’m particularly interested in your opinions about the headscarf issue on Turkey’s university campuses. Could you explain what exactly has happened in recent weeks.
Nowadays AK Party Government has been working to cancel the prohibition which doesn’t allow the students with headscarf to study in the universities. In this issue AK Party and MHP (Nationalist Action Party) has made a consensus to change the law about this prohibition in the constitution. And as you know this change was accepted in TBMM(The Turkish Parliament) last week.
I know you voted for AK Party in the recent elections. How do you feel about their leadership on the headscarf issue?
I think that Ak Party government has solved the problem which was started by the YOK(Department of Higher Education) in 1997. And i can say that Ak Party has solved the problem which has not been before 1997.
What is your opinion on this issue?
I think the clothes must not be very important to study in anywhere. The people over 18 can choose what they want to wear. So rules must not interfere a university student’s clothes.And i also think that a person cannot interfere another person’s beliefs. Free people have a right to live according to their beliefs.In Turkey some people who deal with the appearance of the society instead considering their minds which requires to be interested in call themselves as the modern community. is not that so funny?Lastly i want to add that states have to provide an environment in which citizens can practice their religion freely…
Do you have friends at your university who would prefer to go to class with a head covering? How have they resolved their tensions in the past?
I had some friends who had headscarf in the outside of the university. They had to take off their headscarves to study in the university.
What has the mood on campus been like in the past few days since Parliament’s new measures were passed? What are your friends saying about this issue? Have you noticed any changes on campus?
I haven’t seen any changes in the university in this week. But of course everyone was talking about this constitution change. Some of my friends thought like me. However some of them did not want this constitution change. They just say that we are a secular country and the ladies with headscarf cannot enter to our universities.
Is there anything else you’d like to say about this issue?
I would like to say that Turkey has lots of clever ladies to study. However they cannot study in their universities. Therefore they are going to study to Austria, France, The Usa, Germany… This is brain drain, Turkey has to stop it.