The Anachronistic Kemalist ideology
By Khalid Amayreh, June 13, 2008
Underscoring the ideological rigidity of the ultra-secular but undemocratic Kemalist ideology, Turkey’s Constitutional Court this week ruled that Islamic headscarves violated secularism and can’t be allowed to be worn at universities and other public institutions.
The verdict overrides a recent decision by the Turkish parliament allowing the hijab at universities as a matter of personal and religious freedom. It also sets the controversial court above the parliament and even above the collective will of the Turkish masses.
Indeed, it is more than mind-boggling to see female Muslim students granted full freedom to attend universities in Europe and North America with their headscarves on while Turkish students are denied the same freedom in a country where Muslims constitute nearly 99% of the population.
The military-dominated Kemalist establishment, which has been steadily losing public appeal as is evident from the outcome of the two latest general elections, claims that the hijab constitutes a mortal threat to the safety and survival of secularism in Turkey.
This rationale, however, is as irrational as it is silly, since it is beyond the pale of common sense to think that a small piece of cloth covering a woman’s hair poses a threat to the survival of secularism. In fact, one might argue that a secular regime that can’t tolerate, let alone survive, a woman’s headscarf is not worth maintaining.
Besides, true secularism shouldn’t really interfere with people’s choices and personal freedoms.
Nonetheless, it is obvious that the Turkish court as well as the military establishment and their allies in the media and business sectors have long come to view secularism as a kind of religion whose raison d’etre is to counter and, if possible, eradicate Islam.
To the chagrin of the anti-Islam Kemalist establishment, however, nearly nine decades of fundamentalist secular inquisition have utterly failed to realize this sinister goal. Turks continued to express their respect of and adherence to Islamic teachings and ideals.
Khalid Amayreh continues to work as a journalist. He lives with his family in the Occupied Palestinian town of Dura with his wife and family. More political commentary on the headcovering and secularism in Turkey can be found in this article from desertpeace at wordpress.
Found online: comparison photos of 1957 USA and 2008 Turkey