In the news: The Turkish prime minister Erdogan recently announced that he wanted to do away with mixed student accommodation. For boys and girls to live together doesn’t fit Turkey’s ‘conservative, democractic character,’ he said.
Commentary by Ceren Yüceçam, Turkish MSc student of Environmental Sciences.
Religion and the state are separate in Turkey, but the boundaries are getting blurred. Until a couple of years ago, for instance, entering a government building wearing a headscarf was forbidden. Now a woman can just walk into a university in a headscarf. Some parties didn’t want that because they felt it didn’t go with a secular state. I am on the secular side but I don’t agree on all points. I am not happy with the secular party’s strong opposition to headscarves, for instance. I think that they should also consider the question of people’s freedom. If a woman who wears a headscarf wants to go to university, she should be able to. There needs to be a balance between freedom and religion, so that everyone in Turkey can live the way they want to: Kurds, Armenians, people with a religious conviction and people without one. What we need in Turkey now is empathy. You need to be able to imagine how other sections of the population feel.’
Photo: Turkish prime minister Erdogan