Merve Kavakçı welcomes headscarved deputies' attendance in Parliament
Former Deputy Merve Kavakçı (Photo: İHA)
31 October 2013 /TODAYSZAMAN.COM, İSTANBUL
As four headscarved deputies from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) walked into Parliament on Thursday without facing a protest from opposition parties, Turkey's first headscarved deputy Merve Kavakçı, who was forcefully removed from Parliament in 1999 during her oath-taking ceremony for wearing a headscarf, welcomed the development, deeming it a positive step in the country’s human rights record.
Amid angry protests and boos, Kavakçı was forced out of Parliament for wearing a headscarf during her swearing-in ceremony.
Bülent Ecevit, the prime minister at the time, addressed the packed assembly, saying, "This is not the place to challenge the state. Inform this woman of her limits!” while half the chamber stood shouting: "Get out! Get out!" to the seated Kavakçı.
Kavakçı left in tears. She was not only dismissed from Parliament but was also stripped of her citizenship. Moreover, the Constitutional Court considered her wearing a headscarf in Parliament as evidence of a violation of secularism in the closure case of her party in 2001.
However, Parliament showed a pro-freedom stance toward headscarved deputies on Thursday, laying to rest fears of the repetition of the Kavakçı incident.
Kavakçı said no one lost anything with the attendance of the headscarved deputies in Parliament. On the contrary, she said, the society won.
The event marked the end of a long-standing ban on the wearing of headscarves in the chamber and was positively welcomed by the people.
Kavakçı said the development should pave the way for facilitating the removal of an ongoing de facto ban on the headscarf in other institutions such as the judiciary, the army and the police department. She also said that the hard-fought for right must be carefully protected.
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