Thought Archive

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A question of Hijab

News from Ankara! Cankaya Palace has a woman in headscarf, and this woman - wife of Turkey's new president, Abdullah Gul - will inhabit the spaces of this great temple of secular religion. How will she feel there - will she be threatened by the past, will she herself threaten it, will she lose sleep over it? Turkey is horrified, inspired and unprepared at the same time. It should have happened sooner or later and it did. People see things there - things to do with creeping Islamization and slow transformation of Turkey into a theocracy of the Saudi Arabian type. These fears of educated elites and urban capital are unfounded, knowing what degree of vigilance is already in existence within Turkish republic.

Turkey, for all its worth, is getting not only more comfortable with itself, and true to its identity. This identity is confused but as any confused identity, and this constantly evolving identity is a reason why this coutnry such an exciting place to be in. There is a tradition of a secular governance that had been established by Ataturk, but in fact - and this is why he was so successful in his entrerprise - dates to traditions of Ottoman administration. There are also lines that can not be crossed, and being in the faultline of many a traditions Turkey knows and feels all of them. Joining European Union, with laws and traditions of its own, that frankly are harmful to many of Turkish traditions, is a wrong way of crossing this faultine - becoming a successful liberal economy and a fair society where secular and religous coexist peacefully maybe a better one. Headscarf, then, will stop being a political symbol and will be what is meant to be - an item of clothing.

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