Headscarf no longer a tool: Main opposition CHP leader

Headscarf no longer a tool: Main opposition CHP leader

Headscarf no longer a tool: Main opposition CHP leader

The main opposition Republican People’s Party leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu delivers an opening speech at his party’s meeting. He has said the CHP has put an end to political exploitation of headscarve issue. AA photo

Four days after four ruling party lawmakers entered Parliament wearing headscarves, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu expressed his determination to end the political exploitation of the issue.  

“We are a party which believes in gender equality, which grants the right to vote and the right to get elected,” CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said on Nov. 3 during his first publicly delivered remarks after the landmark parliamentary session.

“We have fought for this,” he said.

Portraying his party as a champion of gender equality, he also referred to the fact that Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey who led reforms providing equal rights and opportunities for women, was also the founder of the CHP.

Kılıçdaroğlu argued that the CHP “made history” at Parliament last week, suggesting both the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and pro-government media had actually expected the party to display a harsh objection against those headscarf-wearing deputies so they would have an excuse for attacking them.

“We have erased a very important fact from Turkey’s agenda,” he said, adding that parties would no longer be able to use the headscarf issue to portray themselves as the victimized party.

The CHP has been widely cited as having played a central role in creating a peaceful atmosphere at the Oct. 31 session. Party executives underlined that the headscarf issue should be handled as a matter of freedom, while also maintaining that the government should actually use this incident as an opportunity to review its officious approach of interfering with people’s lifestyles.

Kılıçdaroğlu also challenged the AKP’s claims to be expanding women’s rights, saying that tens of thousands of headscarved women have been working without social insurance in Istanbul alone, a fact only voicing being voiced by the CHP.

The speeches delivered by CHP members at the same session showed that the party had not been using women’s bodies or clothing as a tool for scoring political points, contrary to the ruling party, Kılıçdaroğlu also said. He particularly offered thanks to the CHP’s deputy parliamentary group chair, Muharrem İnce, and deputy chair, Şafak Pavey, for their speeches at the session.

His remarks came in an opening speech at the CHP Party Assembly meeting. The speech was open to the press, although the meeting was closed as usual.

Up until yesterday’s speech, Kılıçdaroğlu had delivered only very brief remarks expressing his satisfaction over the events.

“I thank all fellow lawmakers who delivered speeches today in Parliament. I’m very happy today,” he had said on Oct. 31, when asked by reporters to assess the incident after gathering with his party’s female deputies at a dinner after the parliamentary session.