Headscarved women become more active, Turkey’s first lady says
Hayrunisa Gül noted she herself has suffered a lot as a woman covering her head, but stressed she thinks “today the taboos are broken.” DAILY NEWS Photo / Selahattin SÖNMEZFirst Lady Hayrunisa Gül said the women with headscarves have become more apparent in the Turkey because they have begun to be more involved in life, not because their number jumped.
“There are not more headscarves than before; the headscarf-clad women have begun to be more active, and as a result of this, they are more visible in social life,” a Middle East Policy article penned by former New York Time reporter Marvine Howe quoted her as saying in the fall edition of the journal.
During the interview conducted over the summer, Turkish President Abdullah Gül’s wife’s remarks revealed her calm and patient stance over the headscarf issue that occupied Turkey’s political agenda for years. And the time proved her right, as currently, five Justice and Development Party (AKP) female deputies are entering Parliament with headscarves without any major tensions except objections voiced over the sincerity of the move.
“I am in favor of letting the headscarf issue take care of itself over time. We have been observing the normalization in everything in the recent year. People view each other with greater tolerance compared to the past. They have more tolerance for each other’s culture, tradition and values,” she said according to article.
Gül also noted she herself has suffered a lot as a woman covering her head, but stressed she thinks “today the taboos are broken.”
I’m keen on my freedom: Gül
The interview conducted over the summer while the anti-government protests were still tense across the count and Gül’a opinions on the issue took up considerable space in the article.
She said the Gezi protests made her worry about the government’s achievements within the past 10 years, according to the article.
“Frankly speaking, I couldn’t reconcile the scenes of violence we watched on the streets with the new Turkey. It made me sad and concerned and I wondered whether we were going backwards and all our efforts have been in vain,” the article quoted her.
“Our democracy has managed to clear many hurdles. Protests are normal in democracies but…protests should not be violent; they should be peaceful,” she added.
The first lady explained the protests by stating that the protesters were too young to remember the “difficulties” the country went through before the AKP government.
“Our youth did not experience the difficulties of ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s, and therefore perhaps do not recognize the value of our democratic and economic achievements,” she said, citing high inflation levels and State Security Courts among those difficulties.
Howe defined Gül’s view on social issues as “conservative but not radical, firmly pro-life, anti-abortion, opposed to C-section delivery, and in favor of large families,” stressing she had the feeling she is talking to a moderate Republican in the U.S., not an Islamist.
Soundly asserting she is against abortion for herself, Gül’s words on the issue implied she thinks it should be a personal choice, rather than a subject of imposition.
“I can’t imagine ending a life, but it should be up to the woman to decide,” she said.
“Of course, I’m not against family planning. I’m keen on my freedom. If I am forced to do something, it has the opposite effect on me. I’m against things being imposed on people by saying it should be this or that way.”