Hijab Banned, Adultery Permitted in Kemalist Turkey
By Waseem Shehzad
To their eternal shame, Kemalists
in Turkey continue to expose themselves as a morally bankrupt bunch.
They ban Muslim girls and women who wear the hijab from attending
school or university but insist that adultery is permissible.
How out of touch with the values
of the population, 99 percent of whom are Muslim, the secular fanatics
are was revealed by last month's ruling of Turkey's constitutional
court. Article 440 of the penal code under which women found guilty
of committing adultery faced a prison sentence of up to three years,
was annulled, a court official announced on June 24.
'The said article has been lifted
by a vote of nine to two,' the official said. Turkish male adulterers
face no legal punishment. Article 441, which penalized men only
if they financially supported a mistress, was lifted in 1996.
Women's groups 'welcomed' the court
ruling as long overdue, according to the British news agency, Reuters.
'We laud the court's decision and believe that adultery is not an
affair that concerns the State,' said lawyer Hulya Gulbahar, a veteran
women's rights activist.
Women's groups and women's rights
activists are euphemisms for secular westernised women. They do
not care, indeed, they resent the right demanded by Muslim women
to wear the headscarf.
That men were exempt from punishment
for adultery two years ago was bad enough; last month's ruling about
women is a regressive step which will encourage immorality and lewdness
in society. What the court has done amounts to declaring that there
is no shame in committing adultery.
Is this in keeping with the values
of the people?
Even as the constitutional court
ruled that adultery was permissible, thousands of Muslims participated
in a march in Ankara the same day to protest against a ban on Islamic
dress in universities. They marched along one of the city's main
boulevards at the head of a convoy of buses carrying female students
excluded from universities for wearing hijab.
The road was flanked by hundreds
of young women in brightly coloured headscarves, carrying flowers
and cheering on the marchers. 'Muslims do not bow before oppression,'
chanted the crowd, as massive contingents of heavily-armed police
stood by in threatening formations. 'Break the hands that touch
the headscarf,' the crowd shouted.
Female students have staged regular
protests against the enforcement of a ban on hijab in universities.
Renewed enforcement has led to a split between the staunchly secularist
generals and the government of prime minister Mesut Yilmaz. Turkish
generals consider themselves guardians of the Kemalist legacy and
viciously enforce it even though the vast majority of Turkish people
resent the violation of their religious rights. Hijab, it must be
noted, is an Islamic requirement.
The convoy of buses was initially
stopped on the outskirts of the city as they arrived from Istanbul.
They were later allowed to proceed under the watchful gaze of the
Strict enforcement of the ban at
Istanbul University sparked massive protests earlier this year,
forcing Yilmaz, who has little sympathy for Islam, to call for tolerance
in the application of the hijab ban. Turkey's military accuses Yilmaz,
who came to power after prime minister Necmettin Erbakan, leader
of the now-banned Refah Party, was forced out of office under pressure
from the generals, of going soft in the fight against Muslims who
observe their religious obligations.
Meanwhile, Islamic activists say
their protests will spread. 'If they insist on this decision, it
will be a great shame for the government and a blow for human rights
in Turkey,' senior MP Bulent Arinc of the Fazilat Party said. 'Millions
of people are seeing the injustice of this headscarf ban. No force
can stand in the way of the people,' he said.
Turkish secularists go to ridiculous
lengths to fight Islam. Turkey is the only Muslim country where
a local version of the pornographic magazine, Playboy, was published.
The generals fear the hijab of Muslim women and beards worn by Muslim
men as symbols of defiance to their authority. In the military,
neither beards nor moustache are allowed.
Turkish generals prefer to look smooth!
Muslimedia: July 16-31, 1998
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