A headscarved student who became a deputy of the Turkish Student Council on Friday became the first veiled woman to take an oath in Parliament. Hacer Eşut, a high school student, took her oath to become a deputy without taking her headscarf off. “It is a very beautiful feeling,” she said. Merve Kavakçı, Turkey’s first headscarved deputy, was forcefully removed from Parliament in 1999 during her oath-taking ceremony for wearing a headscarf.
Eşut, a student at Van’s Mehmet Akif Ersoy High School, is interested in the history of the Ottomans and Islam, according to the Turkish Student Council yearbook. In the same event, Sadık Şen from Hakkari’s İMKB High School was elected head of the council. The attendance of headscarved wives of politicians at an April 23 reception at the Parliament was interpreted as being part of the normalization process that Turkey is going through. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan attended National Sovereignty and Children’s Day celebrations with his headscarved wife, Emine Erdoğan, for the first time this year, in a sign of easing tensions over the headscarf, which has been a thorny matter between the government and the secular establishment.
The staunchly secular military had previously refused to attend state receptions where headscarved women were present, pointing to the fact that veiled wives of politicians cannot attend official functions because they are held on state facilities, where wearing the headscarf is prohibited. In the previous three years, President Abdullah Gül has even held double receptions to avoid the problem. However, his wife, Hayrünnisa Gül, who also wears the headscarf, did not attend this year’s April 23 reception.
Meanwhile European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) head Nicolas Bratza has said the Strasbourg-based court may revise its ruling after being asked whether or not the ECtHR can change an earlier ruling that approves of the headscarf ban at Turkish universities, the Habertürk daily reported on Friday. “There should be strong grounds to change the rulings,” he said. Bratza was in Turkey this week for ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Constitutional Court.
The court ruled in favor of Turkey in 2005 in a case filed in 2004 by Leyla Şahin, a student of medicine at İstanbul University who sought to wear her headscarf at the university. The court upheld the Turkish law by 16 votes to one. Since then, Şahin’s case has been used as a precedent by the court for similar cases.