Until recently, Hijab was banned in Turkey. Hijab is an Islamic practice for women, who cover their heads and faces to be oblivious to men’s attention. Despite Turkey being a Muslim state, it is of great wonder that such a practice was considered punishable by law. However, the reasons are firmly rooted in Turkey’s history and its affiliations with the west.
After Turkey abolished the Caliphate, the new republic was founded on the principle of modernism and secularism. The founding father, Mustafa Kemal introduced a series of clothing regulations which prevented the expression of any one particular religion. Kemal himself was often seen in his linen suit, and Panama hat. The century old tradition of wearing the Turkish cap, Fez, was banned amid widespread criticism. The headscarf and hijab followed soon after.
Since decades, the state has viewed the hijab as an overt expression of religion. While the secularism has made Turkey favorable among the west, the residents of Turkey have often complained and protested against such clothing bans. In 2007, Erdogan, campaigned for Prime Minister, and included the reinstatement of the hijab and Islam as a primary mandate. This was a clear indication that the people were in favor of the practice. However, after his election as Prime Minster, Erdogan could not get the Parliament to pass a favorable legislation.
Recent developments however have seen the hijab being reinstated in the civil service. The push towards a religious state had been evident in the build-up. The state however, remains firm to its secular grounds. It remains to be seen what the future holds for Turkey; for now secularism holds true, but glimpses of religious activism are getting frequent.