Leaders in unison in hailing ‘maturity’ in Turkish Parliament

Leaders in unison in hailing ‘maturity’ in Turkish Parliament

Leaders in unison in hailing ‘maturity’ in Turkish Parliament

Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmaker Nurcan Dalbudak (C) is welcomed by other lawmakers on the first day she entered Parliament wearing a headscarf. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

Interpreting the events as a sign of democratic maturity, Turkey’s leaders, including President Abdullah Gül, have expressed appreciation for the atmosphere at Parliament on Oct. 31, when four ruling party lawmakers entered General Assembly wearing headscarves without any major protests from the opposition.

“As you witnessed, everybody was happy. I thank all political parties who contributed to this type normalization,” President Gül told reporters in Istanbul on Nov. 1 before his departure for Scotland.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also expressed his gratitude to the political parties represented at Parliament for their maturity.

“Of course, I deem yesterday’s historic atmosphere as one of the significant normalization steps of the democratization process. Parliament responded to this phase with unprecedented maturity. Although different statements were made earlier, yesterday’s [Oct. 31] atmosphere was very mature,” Erdoğan told reporters on Nov. 1 in Ankara.

The scenes were in marked contrast to what happened in the face of a similar move 14 years ago, when the then Welfare Party (RP) lawmaker Merve Kavakçı was forced to leave the parliamentary session after the negative reaction prompted by her headscarf.

Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek voiced his appreciation to all political parties for their prudence.

“If yesterday’s atmosphere, tolerance and prudence dominated Turkish politics for one or two years, we would not have the problems we have at the moment, we would solve them in a short time. Because our people already have democratic maturity,” Çiçek said.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which has been widely cited as having played a central role in creating of such atmosphere, underlined that the headscarf issue should be handled as a matter of freedom. It also maintained that the government should actually use this incident as an opportunity to review its officious approach of “interfering” with people’s lifestyles.

CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who met with his party’s female deputies at a dinner on Oct. 31 after the parliamentary session, briefly expressed his satisfaction when asked to assess the incident earlier in the day.

“I thank all fellow lawmakers who delivered speeches today at Parliament. I’m very happy today,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

CHP deputy parliamentary group chair Akif Hamzaçebi, for his part, said Turkey had resolved the headscarf issue through consensus.

“Our female lawmakers’ entering Parliament’s General Assembly wearing headscarves is a matter of freedom. Different elaborations would be wrong. Turkey has resolved this problem with consensus. This is an acquisition for democracy,” Hamzaçebi told reporters at Parliament.