A huge crowd – over 100,000 people – assembled in Anıtkabir, Turkey over the weekend to protest the Erdogan government’s plan to lift the ban on Muslim headscarves, as well they should.
Michael wrote about this issuea couple of months back, wondering, "…what about female students who refuse to wear a headscarf? Will they be considered ‘infidels’ or ’shameless women’? Will society force them to wear a headscarf? What will happen?"
A commenter noted, correctly, I think that:
The headscarf is a political symbol and it is being used by extremists in Turkey. It has nothing to do with freedom of religion. Everyone’s free to practice whatever religion they want, but not in government financed spaces (students attending public universities do not pay any tuition, the government pays).
Lifting the ban on the headscarf is just going to bring the radical islamists one step closer their goal.
Personally I think that if a person, whether male or female, wants to wear a headscarf or other religious garb then he should not be harassed by the state whether she lives in Turkey, Toronto, or Timbuktu. The key word in that sentence is, of course, "if".
As Michael noted:
Frankly, quite some girls whose parents are very conservative Muslims are forced to wear a headscarf, not necessarily because they want to wear it. If the ban is lifted, these girls will be forced to wear the headscarf constantly.
As I’ve written about here before (and before that, and before that), the abuse and violence that some Muslim parents inflict on their daughters as a result of conflicts over the traditional Islamic costumes is obscene. And that’s being done in the west – I shudder to think of what goes on in Iran on a daily basis.
When does the freedom to choose something actually result in the complete and utter loss of liberty for the people who were supposedly being freed from oppression? When that freedom is an illusion deliberately concocted to bring about it’s exact opposite.
I imagine many Turkish schoolgirls are feeling sick to their stomachs right now at the thought of having to take on the burden of a 7th century tradition – one that their parents ought to know better than to inflict on them – because of the familial, peer, and social pressure that will, inevitably, be placed on them should they fail to accept the "freedom" to wear it of their own accord.
In itself that is sufficient reason to believe that the status quo is better than the alternative.