Munich Personal RePEc Archive

The Headscarf Controversy in Turkey

Toprak, Metin and Uslu, Nasuh (2008): The Headscarf Controversy in Turkey. Published in: Journal of Economic and Social Research , Vol. 11, No. 1 (1 July 2009): pp. 43-67.

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This article is based on a monographic field study, which was conducted in October 2007. In addition, the results of other studies on the headscarf issue conducted at different times between 2003 and 2007 have also been used to follow the development over the course of time. The study found that the headscarf prohibition has no strong social basis. As it would be a mistake to see the headscarf prohibition as an element of the secularism project, defining an ideology on the basis of the headscarf, an important religious symbol in Turkey, presents a risk to the progress of democracy, and only serves to increase political polarization. Formulating public policies on the basis of the headscarf prohibition will only help destroy social peace. Social engineering projects which aim to change or destroy political, religious and ethnic positions of citizens are not permitted in Western-type contemporary democracies. There is no headscarf problem in Turkey in a sociological sense, the real problem lies in the totalitarian/authoritarian approach which stems from groundless fears and/or ideological choices of the social elite or economic power centers.

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