Hijab banned, adultery permitted in Kemalist Turkey

Developing Just Leadership

Waseem Shehzad

Rabi' al-Awwal 22, 1419 1998-07-16


by Waseem Shehzad (World, Crescent International Vol. 27, No. 10, Rabi' al-Awwal, 1419)

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 police.

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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