AHMET ALTAN, TARAF
Does the state have a right to meddle in its citizens’ personal lives? The Kemalist mentality says it does, because those who possess this mentality see the majority of citizens as “ignorant” people who should be governed and guided by “educated” people.
That is why Kemalists argue for the wearing of headscarves to be banned; they don’t believe that women are capable enough of deciding on their own and tell them they should take their headscarves off in order to rid themselves of their ignorance. The state ends up deciding what women will wear. These Kemalists have lost positions in the government and now we are being governed by religious conservatives. What has changed beyond that? The common belief by the government that it is has the authority to interfere in citizens’ personal lives remains exactly the same. Only the idea of what it can interfere in has changed. Today, religious conservatives argue for a ban on abortions, thinking women are not capable enough to make such decisions on their own. You see, it is just a new version of the same old problem.