Coexistence in harmony
It is pleasing that there were massive reactions to the ugly attack experienced by nurse Ayşegül Terzi because of what she was wearing… This shows that, in our society, the culture of coexistence and diversity is developing now even though it is not yet adequate.
Whether or not the attacker is schizophrenic is for the Forensic Medicine Institute to determine.
What is important in terms of society is that it has shown awareness and sensitivity to such an act. What makes me particularly happy is the reaction of the headscarf-wearing Family and Social Policies Minister Fatma Betül Kaya. She has set a very good example.
In her statement to Murat Yetkin from Hürriyet Daily News, she rightfully made a reference to the discrimination she was exposed to herself in university for wearing a headscarf. While she was accepted into Bosphorus University with top scores, because of bans introduced by the Feb. 28 regime, she had to give up her first preference and attended Bilkent University to study “electric-electronics engineering.”
Therefore, the “positivist dogma” that assumes a headscarf-wearing head is closed to modern sciences is wrong. Obtaining a scientific education does not depend on being religious or not.
In Turkey, pious citizens and secular citizens have to live together. As a matter of fact, society does not have such a problem. While politicized segments were fighting with each other doctrinally, in society, thank God, such tensions never became prevalent.
Students opted to attend classes all together, the headscarf wearers and non-headscarf wearers.
Politicians and those in a position to influence the society should especially be careful not to create tension over clothes and lifestyles.
From this point of view, Minister Kaya has become a good “role model.” The minister does not pay attention to the rage and revenge sentiments that are continuing among some of the writers associated with her party; on the contrary, she is acting in a unifying manner. In this incident also, she has empathized with her short-wearing counterpart Ayşegül Terzi and stood up for her honor and freedom.
By necessity, there is diversity in developed and mature societies; everybody has accepted, internalized and adopted the notion that differences have an area of freedom. Their energies are not directed to fighting; but to building a better life, to the economy, to education, to science, to the arts…
France has experienced a secular-Catholic fight for more than a century. Charles De Gaulle, a Catholic, was at the same time a republican loyal to the secular state. He solved the issue of the schools, reconciled the sides, and with the help of economic development, France stabilized during his time.
It is a good time to remember what John F. Kennedy wrote in his book “Profiles in Courage:”
“At the essence of American unity lies tolerance for our differences and reconciliation with mutual concessions.”
We also have to achieve this, adapt our language and behavior to this.
Terzi’s attacker, Abdullah Çakıroğlu, has explained in his own statement the “intention” with which he injured the woman. He argues that the state should introduce bans for revealing clothing. He says he has attempted to do it himself because the state does not introduce bans.
For this reason, the incident cannot be regarded as “simple injury.” This has not sprouted from a plain “who takes the seat” row in a bus.
I think it is legally correct that chief prosecutor Fehmi Tosun has based the charges on “the forceful intervention against lifestyles.”
The Justice Ministry, which otherwise is unfortunately very competent in the politicization of justice, has displayed satisfactory awareness on this matter; they are considering introducing deterrent penalties with a new regulation.
We need to be at peace with each other and deter those who disrupt this.