Has the headscarf been permitted in the name of ‘more freedom?’
After headscarves were allowed in schools starting from fifth grade and up, two issues emerged: One is the issue of who will decide how minors will dress, and the second is social pressure, which we call "neighborhood pressure," created by the freedom to wear a headscarf in secondary education.
I view these two issues as follows, starting with the first: Of course, parents do not have every right over their children. For example, they cannot harm their children physically or psychologically; if physical or psychological damage is the issue then the public authority must step in and intervene.
However, if such damage is not in question, then, in liberal societies, the state does not interfere with how parents raise their children. Some people are saying, “Making children wear the hijab should be considered a kind of psychological damage,” but this is a very “diluted” argument. If this argument is considered correct, then a conservative would respond: “Drinking in front of children creates an encouraging effect and damages the child psychologically.” So the debate goes on forever, not reaching a conclusion.
The second issue: In a country ruled by a very strong conservative government, the freedom to wear a headscarf in secondary education could create an atmosphere that favors the headscarf-wearing students, as a kind of role model. This is an issue that needs to be addressed and debated, although this does not legitimize the banning of the headscarf. If “banning” is legitimized based on justifications such as “creating an atmosphere” or “being a role model,” then other bans may be introduced based on the same justifications.
I am aware of the problems that might emerge with the freedom of the headscarf in secondary education, but despite this I support the freedom to wear a headscarf in secondary education.
I am in favor of freedom, but I also know that this government, by allowing headscarves in secondary education, is not taking a step in the name of social freedoms. That's because this government does not approach any issue with a “liberal perspective,” apart from the rights and demands of conservatives.
For example, it can never tolerate criticism. It can even declare anyone who criticizes it as an “enemy of Turkey.”
For example, it is never liberal on the topic of freedom of the press.
For example, it does not have a liberal stance on the freedom of assembly and demonstration. There is not a soul in this country – except for the pro-government segment – that has not tasted tear gas.
For example, on the issue of freedom of expression, the government is not liberal.
For example, in the issue of the objections of Alevis to compulsory religion classes, the government does not have a liberal stance.
Even though it may be “freedom-loving” in lifting the ban on the headscarves of nine and 10-year-old children, it is not freedom-loving at all on the issue of young adults, or about who is living with who in student apartments.
In short, it is only liberal when the demands of the conservative section of society are in question. This is why it's not possible to regard the introduction of the freedom of the headscarf in middle schools as a part of "democratization and liberalization."
This government is not part of a “free society” cause. These steps “freeing” one segment cannot be called steps for freedom. They can only be called, “Taking steps to create a society in harmony with its own view of life or own lifestyle.” It can be said that they are performing social engineering to achieve the social order they yearn for, and this has nothing to do with liberalism.