Ruling AKP official points at headscarf in Parliament

Ruling AKP official points at headscarf in Parliament

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Ruling AKP official points at headscarf in Parliament

‘I reckon a change in the internal regulation may come on agenda after the Eid,’ Mehmet Ali Şahin says. AA photo

A senior member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has said that amending Parliament’s internal regulation would be a better way to open access for deputies wearing headscarves.

Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek had already stated that the Parliament’s internal regulation did not include any clause saying that deputies could not enter the Parliament with their headscarves on, AKP Deputy Chair Mehmet Ali Şahin said in an interview with Anadolu Agency posted over the weekend.
“When you look at the related article of the internal regulation, it says that ‘Ladies wear tailleur.’ It doesn’t include any other clause,” Şahin noted.

“The way to stop this is making an amendment on this issue in the internal regulation,” Şahin, a former speaker of the Parliament, responded when asked whether there would be any reaction to the attendance of a deputy with a headscarf at a General Assembly meeting.

“I reckon a change in the internal regulation may come on the agenda after the Eid,” Şahin told Anadolu, referring to the Eid-al-Adha holiday which will end on Oct. 21.

Şahin’s remarks have been interpreted as a reference to wide expectations that some female deputies of the AKP who have been performing the annual hajj this year may want to come to the Parliament with headscarves upon their return from Mecca.

The remarks have as well been interpreted as a veiled warning to those deputies that they should first wait for the amendment if they want to participate in Parliament activities with their headscarves.

“… I believe that having such an arrangement adopted by the Parliament’s General Assembly and bringing in a legal status for this will increase objections to an important extent. At the moment, the entrance of a deputy colleague with headscarf to a General Assembly meeting will lead to certain debates, although our Parliament speaker said that it is not banned. Some may say ‘If it was the situation, then why hasn’t it been done until now,’” Şahin said.

“That’s why, in my conviction, it will be more appropriate to pave the way for our female deputies who are willing to enter the General Assembly as headscarved after providing such easing in the internal regulation,” he added.

The debate erupted after the government’s abolition of a headscarf ban for female public servants as part of a recently announced “democratization package.”

Şahin’s statement has been considered as a sign indicating that the ruling party doesn’t want to experience a crisis similar to the Merve Kavakçı incident.

Kavakçı was elected as Istanbul deputy for the Virtue Party (FP) in 1999. She was prevented from taking the parliamentary oath for wearing a headscarf, and her citizenship was consequently annulled on arguments that she was a citizen of the United States. The incident led the Constitutional Court to dissolve the FP in June 2001, on the grounds that it had become a “center of activities contrary to the principle of secularism.”