Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Monday, May 3, 1999 Published at 20:07 GMT 21:07 UK

World: Europe

Headscarf deputy stands ground

Merve Kavakci could be tried for wearing a headscarf in parliament

By Chris Morris in Ankara

The woman at the centre of a dispute about wearing the Islamic-style headscarf in the Turkish parliament has said she has no intention of backing down.

Merve Kavakci, a newly-elected deputy from the pro-Islamist Virtue Party, said the Turkish constitution guaranteed her freedom of religious belief.

[ image: Bulent Ecevit: parliament symbol of secular state]
Bulent Ecevit: parliament symbol of secular state
Earlier on Monday veteran secular politician Bulent Ecevit was given a mandate to try to form a new government following last month's general elections.

But Merve Kavakci has set herself on a collision course with the secular establishment.

A state prosecutor is investigating whether she might be put on trial for provoking religious hatred after she appeared in parliament on Sunday wearing a headscarf.

Although Turkey is predominantly Muslim no-one has ever worn the headscarf in the parliamentary chamber.

Mr Ecevit, acting prime minister, said parliament was the symbol of the secular state and Miss Kavakci must be put in her place.

But she launched a counter-attack sure to upset Turkey's powerful military leaders.

Search for a government

She suggested the mothers and wives of soldiers killed in action fighting Kurdish separatists would be disenfranchised if a covered woman was not allowed to sit in parliament.

Most women in Turkey do wear the headscarf, but a large majority of them also have no wish to see religion play a direct role in politics.

The dispute remains unresolved as Mr Ecevit begins the search for coalition partners.

He may well have to work with the hard-line right-wing Nationalist Action Party, but the pro-Islamist Virtue Party, of which Miss Kavakci is a member, can safely be crossed off his list.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

03 May 99 | Europe
Ecevit asked to form government

03 May 99 | Europe
Headscarf row in Turkey parliament

20 Apr 99 | Europe
Ecevit faces resurgent right

19 Apr 99 | Europe
Analysis: Turkey's winners and losers

19 Apr 99 | Europe
The rise of the nationalists

Internet Links

Republic of Turkey

Turkish Daily News

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Violence greets Clinton visit

Russian forces pound Grozny

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

Next steps for peace

Cardinal may face loan-shark charges

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

Trans-Turkish pipeline deal signed

French party seeks new leader

Jube tube debut

Athens riots for Clinton visit

UN envoy discusses Chechnya in Moscow

Solana new Western European Union chief

Moldova's PM-designate withdraws

Chechen government welcomes summit

In pictures: Clinton's violent welcome

Georgia protests over Russian 'attack'

UN chief: No Chechen 'catastrophe'

New arms control treaty for Europe

From Business
Mannesmann fights back

EU fraud -- a billion-dollar bill

New moves in Spain's terror scandal

EU allows labelling of British beef

UN seeks more security in Chechnya

Athens riots for Clinton visit

Russia's media war over Chechnya

Homeless suffer as quake toll rises

Analysis: East-West relations must shift