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Gegen das Kopftuchverbot – und gegen die Kopftuchpolitiker


In einem klugen Essay für das Time-Magazine artikuliert Pelin Turgut den Zwiespalt vieler Türken angesichts von Erdogans Politik: Man lehnt das Kopftuchverbot ab, weil es nicht eine freiheitliche Staatsauffassung passt. Man macht sich aber auch keine Illusionen über die Agenda Erdogans, der weder ein Freiheitsheld noch ein Feminist ist:

„To most Americans and Europeans, the head-scarf issue is a no-brainer. In a functioning democracy, an 18-year-old has the right to attend university dressed however she chooses. That much is indisputable. By lifting the ban, Turkey will have righted a wrong that has been a thorn in its side for far too long.

But the current clash over the ban isn’t just about democracy. It is also a reflection of class struggle between the old élite (the „White Turks“) and a new ruling class. At an upscale shopping mall in Istanbul last week, I overheard a group of teenage girls with big hair and designer jeans proclaim loudly as two head-scarved young women approached: „Why do they have to come here? Can’t they go somewhere else?“ That’s the ugly face of secularist snobbery. Some university professors have even declared they won’t teach head-scarved students, while Deniz Baykal, leader of the opposition Republican People’s Party, speaks of the head scarf in militaristic terms as a „uniform imposed by outside forces.“

But in rejecting that intolerance, let’s not kid ourselves that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a champion of women’s rights. I have attended meetings where his Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputies chose not to shake my hand simply because I’m a woman. I know that hardly any of the AKP deputies have wives who work; when one of them sought to file charges against her husband for allegedly beating her, she was quickly dissuaded. I have watched Erdogan’s daughter (who studied in the U.S. because of the ban) come home, get married and disappear. There was not a single female MP on the commission that drafted the current constitutional amendment … about women!

Erdogan seized on the chance to lift this ban with an enthusiasm that he hasn’t shown for any of the many other democratic reforms Turkey needs. The government has shelved plans to lift Article 301, which makes it a crime to denigrate „Turkishness,“ under which writers and intellectuals like Nobel prizewinner Orhan Pamuk have been tried. Erdogan has made little progress in addressing the grievances of Turkey’s Kurdish minority. If he is really out to prove his democratic mettle, these are the kinds of issues he needs to address.“

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