Debate about headscarf reignites in Turkey

The "10YearChallenge" action on social media has taken a unique turn in Turkey: hundreds of women have posted photos with the hashtag Özgürleştik ("We have become emancipated") showing how they have stopped wearing a headscarf in the last decade. The new challenge has rekindled an old debate.

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Gazete Duvar (TR) /

Women fighting for freedom

The main message of the action is emancipation, Gazete Duvar comments approvingly:

“There was a time when the conservatives fought for the headscarf, the banning of which they saw as a symbol of great deprivation [in secular Turkey]. Now above all young women who have taken off their headscarf say they have emancipated themselves. ... These women, who now have the freedom to wear the headscarf if they choose, were demanding even more freedom. ... We see that in the past decade the number of women who do not cover their heads has risen from 34 percent to 37 percent. All this revives the hope that women will change the world. Perhaps with women's struggle for emancipation we will find a way out of the vicious circle of conservatism, machismo and misogyny into which we have fallen.”

Yeni Şafak (TR) /

Can we just let the headscarf be?

Although wearing a headscarf is a personal decision, with this social media campaign the garment is once again being instrumentalised, Islamic conservative Yeni Şafak complains:

“The headscarf is one of the most important symbols of the Islamic faith. ... Since freedom from the headscarf also means freedom from Islam, some media can't conceal their delight. ... Once the defenders of the freedom to wear the headscarf were beaten with clubs. The faces of the women who have removed their scarves are now meant to imply that the government's 'piety project' has failed. And between the lines the message is supposed to be: 'The government's cronyism and illegality have caused even the faithful to abandon their faith'. That amounts to politicising the headscarf. Can't we just leave it in peace?”