Main opposition CHP vows to oppose veiled MP

Main opposition CHP vows to oppose veiled MP

Main opposition CHP vows to oppose veiled MP

AKP MP Gülay Samancı has said she will enter Parliament with her headscarf. AA Photo

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has vowed to use internal parliamentary regulations to protest the presence of veiled MPs in the legislature, after three ruling-party lawmakers announced their plans to wear headscarves in the chamber.

“If they enter Parliament’s General Assembly wearing headscarves, we will open a procedural debate due to a violation of Parliament’s internal regulations. We will voice our objections before the eyes of the people, regardless of whether they will be accepted or not. We will use all of our rights originating from internal regulations. We have reached an agreement on this issue with our chairman [Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu],” CHP deputy parliamentary group chair Engin Altay told reporters yesterday after an hour-long closed-door meeting with Kılıçdaroğlu.

The CHP will hold an extraordinary parliamentary group meeting tomorrow to discuss the issue.

Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmakers Sevde Beyazıt Kaçar, Gülay Samancı and Nurcan Dalbudak have all separately announced that they will soon come to the General Assembly meetings at Parliament wearing headscarves. All three are among the female AKP deputies who recently performed the annual Hajj.

A debate on whether Parliament’s internal regulation permits access to deputies wearing headscarves erupted after the government’s abolition of a headscarf ban for female public servants as part of the recently announced “democratization package.”

Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan previously said Parliament’s internal regulations did not include any clause stating that deputies could not enter Parliament with their headscarves on.

In 1999, Merve Kavakçı, elected as an Istanbul deputy for the Virtue Party (FP), was prevented from taking the parliamentary oath for wearing a headscarf as a result of harsh objections from the Democratic Left Party (DSP). Her citizenship was consequently annulled on arguments that she was a citizen of the United States.

The Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) will not react against deputies with headscarves as both party leaders have already made clear that they would not object to their presence.

There is no consensus within the CHP on the idea of headscarved lawmakers, with some lawmakers having previously announced that deputies must be allowed to wear headscarves, while another strong neo-nationalist wing within the party known to be fiercely against such a move.

Allowing deputies to wear headscarves would mean the elimination of the principle of a secular state, according to Altay. “The parliamentary speaker said the internal regulation did not include any clause saying deputies could not enter Parliament with their headscarves on. Are all things that are not written in the internal regulations free? Can deputies come to the Parliament with miniskirts, with short pants, with chadors or with burqas? If they allow headscarves, there will be dress anarchy in Parliament,” Altay said.

The headscarf issue has only been debated by male lawmakers up until today, Altay said, saying women should be consulted. “This male-dominated mentality will come to the point of saying, ‘We don’t want bareheaded woman in Parliament’ soon. We will not remain silent against this,” he said.

The CHP will hold an extraordinary parliamentary group meeting tomorrow ahead of Parliament’s General Assembly meeting. However, Kılıçdaroğlu will not attend the meeting as he has a scheduled program in Istanbul at the same time.