Saturday, February 9, 2008

Headscarf Amendments Pass, Number of Headscarves Decline

Both amendments passed the second and final round of voting in Parliament today. The first amendment to Article 10 was passed with a final vote of 403-107 and the second amendment to Article 42 was passed with a final vote of 403-108. President Gül observes the right to call a referendum on the amendments, but such a move is not expected.

Additionally, one additional tidbit of information I have recently gleaned is that the proportion of women who wear some sort of head covering (türban or otherwise) has actually declined in recent years. According to a study released in November 2006 by the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV), a very well-respected think-tank, the percentage of Turkish women wearing no head covering increased from 27 percent in 1996 to 37 percent in 2006. This is contradictory to the oft-made claim that a rising Islamist tide has been responsible for more women covering themselves in recent years.

To move outside Turkey for a bit, NYU law professor and CFR fellow Noah Feldman wrote in Friday's New York Times that if Erdoğan continues to move forward with other progressive reforms, the vote has the potential to set a positive example of the potential co-mingling between Islam and democracy. More reaction to follow. . .

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