The Turkish Constitutional Court delivered a great victory for those fighting to preserve the country’s secular traditions. It upheld the ban on female university students wearing headscarves — despite the efforts of Turkey’s new pro-Islamic president. For secularists, it is a great victory, but it is highly problematic from a civil liberties standpoint.
As a great fan of the separation of church and state, the verdict (I must admit) was welcomed. The new Turkish president is riding a wave of Islamic activism that threatens the stability of one of the most advanced and tolerant Muslim nations. The seven to four ruling is is a blow to the Justice and Development party (AKP), which has pushed an Islamic agenda, and President Erdogan.
Despite the qualms over the future of secularism in Turkey, it is hard to rejoice at the verdict. This is a basic right of these women to be able to be educated without being forced to violate their religious values. Secularism is no justification to deny basic civil liberties to devout citizens. As much as I dread the rise of political Islamic parties in Turkey, they are right about this issue and rightfully aggrieved by the denial of religious expression.