Government to wait on headscarf legislation
A civil initiative has collected 12 million signatures to push for the removal of a ban on headscarf in public offices. AA photoThe government is to wait for a social and political “maturing” of the issue before taking a legislative step on the use of headscarves in public spaces, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç has said.
Arınç supports the online petition campaign from the Civil Servants’ Trade Union (Memur-Sen), which has collected 12 million signatures to push for the removal of a ban on the Islamic headscarf in public offices, he told members of the Diplomatic Correspondents’ Association yesterday. However, the issue is not currently on the government’s agenda.
“At the moment, the government does not have any action on its agenda,” Arınç said, adding that they would make the necessary legal adjustments when the debate had matured sufficiently within society.
He referred to the introduction of headscarves into universities, saying that their introduction into public offices should first follow a similar route.
“We want to see approval from both the political and the social arenas, in order to avoid a new dispute,” he said.
Arınç criticizes media patronage
Arınç also criticized the structure of media patronage in Turkey, calling on businessmen to conduct their business within their own fields, rather than “trying to carry their commercial activities through the government or others.”
“Hasan Cemal should continue his columns, as he is among a few very qualified columnists,” Arınç said of veteran columnist Hasan Cemal, who quit writing for daily Milliyet after the newspaper refused to publish his column.
Cemal’s last piece was published on March 2, voicing support for the daily’s decision to go ahead with the publication of the minutes of a second parliamentarian visit to the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Abdullah Öcalan. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticized the newspaper, saying the principle of press freedom did not give the media the right to “act against the national interest of a country.” Erdoğan had also slammed the columnist with the words “down with your journalism, if this is the journalism you will conduct.”
However, Arınç denied that the government had taken a position on the issue. “It’s not the attitude of the government. I think the attitude of media bosses should be examined,” he added.
Meanwhile, the deputy prime minister also slammed Jordanian King Abdullah II, ironically referring to the king’s shedding of tears before the tomb of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in Ankara during his official visit in early March.
“I already expected that he might deliver such remarks, after he had shed tears in Anıtkabir,” Arınç said, referring to the king’s recent criticisms about Erdoğan.
“Erdoğan is merely promoting a softer version of Islamism,” Abdullah had told The Atlantic magazine in an interview. “Erdoğan once said that democracy, for him, is a bus ride,” he added.