‘Standing man’ allegedly protested headscarf ban at universities

Erdem Gündüz (R) protested a ban preventing headscarved students from entering universities by attending a class with a headscarf. (Photo courtesy of Alper Alpözgen)

June 19, 2013, Wednesday/ 13:06:00

Erdem Gündüz, a performance artist swiftly dubbed the "standing man" on social media in Turkey after he staged an eight-hour silent vigil in Taksim Square on Monday in support of the ongoing Gezi protests, allegedly also protested the headcarved ban at universities by entering a university wearing a headscarf in 2004.

Facing the Atatürk Cultural Center, which was draped in Turkish flags and a portrait of Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Gündüz stood silently for eight hours on Monday, inspiring similar protests elsewhere in İstanbul as well as other provinces across the country.

Turkey has been rocked by demonstrations that began in and around Taksim Square after police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse crowds protesting a government plan to redevelop the Gezi Park in Taksim.

A friend of Gündüz said in a post on Facebook that, years ago, Gündüz had also protested a ban preventing headscarved students from entering universities by attending a class with a headscarf.

On the other hand, Ayşe Hür, former Taraf writer said on Twitter that Gündüz wore headscarf as part of a project in an art course at the university. The act indeed was not a protest but a performance as part of a project, she said, relying on a claim by a friend of Gündüz.

Until 2010, headscarved students were not admitted to lectures at universities due to the headscarf ban. The ban was eliminated after the Higher Education Board (YÖK) sent a circular to universities on the issue. However, there are still some university students who face problems when wearing a headscarf because some universities and professors insist on retaining the ban.

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