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Hijab News: Turkey Secularists Protest Hijab Lift

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  • Zafar Khan
    Turkey Secularists Protest Hijab Lift IslamOnline.net & News Agencies Sat. Feb. 2, 2008
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 3, 2008
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      Turkey Secularists Protest Hijab Lift
      IslamOnline.net & News Agencies
      Sat. Feb. 2, 2008


      ANKARA — Thousands of secularist Turks took to the
      streets on Saturday, February 2, against government
      plans to lift a decades-long ban on hijab on campus,
      warning the lift could undermine Turkey's secularism.
      "Turkey is secular and will remain secular," shouted
      protesters as they waved Turkish flags and banners of
      Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the emblematic leader who threw
      religion out of public life as he rebuilt Turkey from
      the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, Reuters reported.

      The ruling Justice and Development Party and the
      far-right Nationalist Action Party (MHP) opposition
      party have agreed a constitutional amendment to allow
      a compromise headscarf on campus.

      Under the deal between the two parties, women and
      girls at universities are permitted to cover their
      heads by tying the headscarf in the traditional way
      beneath the chin.

      A majority of women use the traditional "basortusu" -
      head cover in Turkish - that is more or less loosely
      knotted under the chin for protection against the
      elements or for modesty.

      It can come off just as easily as it can be tied on
      and raises no objections.

      But the ban would remain on the wrap-round headscarf,
      which secularists claim is associated with political
      Islam, as well as face-veil.

      Together, the AKP and the MHP easily have the
      two-thirds parliamentary majority required to amend
      the constitution.

      The Turkish parliament is expected to approve the
      amendment this week.

      Opinion polls show that a majority the 70 million
      population of Turkey, where some two thirds of women
      wear hijab, back a relaxation of the headscarf ban.

      Hijab, an obligatory code of dress in Islam, was
      banned in public buildings, universities, schools and
      government buildings in Muslim-majority Turkey shortly
      after a 1980 military coup.

      Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose wife and
      daughters wear hijab, had promised before his first
      electoral victory in 2002 that the "unfair ban will be

      He said that hijab is a matter of religious and
      personnel freedom.

      Erdogan's daughters study abroad because of the
      existing hijab ban.

      Academics' Threat

      The secularists' march follows a stern warning by
      secular professors against allowing hijab-clad
      students into classes.

      "We are concerned that universities will plunge into a
      chaotic environment and opposing groups will start
      clashing with each other," Professor Mustafa Akaydin,
      the chairman of the oversight board at Ankara's Middle
      East Technical University, said in a statement.

      He said the planned hijab ban will eradicate Turkey's
      principle of secularism.

      "The erosion of the universities' (principles of)
      rationalism and scientific reason and Turkey's
      transformation into a religious state would become
      inevitable," he said.

      Akaydin told reporters that some women academics were
      already considering boycotting classes if the bill is

      Secularist forces, including the army and senior
      judges, see the headscarf as a symbol of defiance
      against Turkey's fiercely guarded secular system.

      Easing the restrictions, they argue, will increase
      conservative social pressure on women to cover up and
      gradually result in lifting a ban on the headscarf in
      public offices as well.

      In 2005, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that
      the headscarf ban in Turkish universities was not a
      violation of fundamental freedoms and could be
      necessary to protect Turkey's secular order against
      "extremist movements."

      When the Rules Run Up Against Faith
      Prep Athlete Wearing Muslim Clothing Disqualified From
      Track Meet
      By Alan Goldenbach
      Washington Post Staff Writer
      Wednesday, January 16, 2008; Page A01


      Juashaunna Kelly, a Theodore Roosevelt High School
      senior who has the fastest mile and two-mile times of
      any girls' runner in the District this winter, was
      disqualified from Saturday's Montgomery Invitational
      indoor track and field meet after officials said her
      Muslim clothing violated national competition rules.

      Kelly was wearing the same uniform she has worn for
      the past three seasons while running for Theodore
      Roosevelt's cross-country and track teams: a
      custom-made, one-piece blue and orange unitard that
      covers her head, arms, torso and legs. On top of the
      unitard, Kelly wore the same orange and blue T-shirt
      and shorts as her teammates.

      The outfit allows her to compete while complying with
      her Muslim faith, which forbids displaying any skin
      other than her face and hands.

      As one of the other heats was held, two meet officials
      signaled to Kelly and asked her about her uniform.
      Meet director Tom Rogers said Kelly's uniform violated
      rules of the National Federation of State High School
      Associations, which sanctioned the event, by not being
      "a single-solid color and unadorned, except for a
      single school name or insignia no more than 2 1/4

      Rogers then told Kelly she was disqualified. Kelly
      dropped to her knees and began sobbing. Kelly's
      mother, Sarah, walked down from the bleachers at
      Prince George's Sports & Learning Complex in
      Landover and argued with Rogers, but left without
      coming to an agreement to console her daughter.

      "I saw that this isn't getting anywhere, and I wanted
      to go see her," Sarah Kelly said.

      Rogers said he made three public address announcements
      prior to Kelly's disqualification requesting that
      Roosevelt Coach Tony Bowden meet with him. Bowden said
      he didn't hear any announcements.

      Kelly has worn the same uniform for three years
      without any questions, including the 800- and
      1,600-meter races at last year's Montgomery
      Invitational, at which Rogers also was the director.

      "She ran in the same exact meet last year," Sarah
      Kelly said. "There was nothing said. No one has ever
      said anything to her."

      Rogers said: "We run over 2,000 athletes in this meet.
      Most likely an official missed her uniform [last year]
      and a call wasn't made."

      Juashaunna Kelly, who last week was named the 2007
      Gatorade girls' cross-country runner of the year in
      the District, had her uniform custom-made by a tailor
      in Apple Valley, Calif., two years ago.

      "It's not special," Kelly said. "It doesn't make me
      perform better."

      She said she has been questioned about her uniform
      before every meet in which she has competed, including

      "It was the same as the other meets: They pulled me
      aside and asked me why am I wearing this," she said.
      "I said, 'It's because I'm a Muslim.' "

      Rogers said he knew Kelly was wearing the uniform for
      religious reasons and that he offered her several
      options to conform to the rules of the meet while
      still respecting her faith, including placing a plain
      T-shirt over her unitard and then wearing her team
      uniform over it.

      "Every sport has uniform rules. It has nothing to do
      with religious discrimination," Rogers said. "They
      were provided with several options that would have
      allowed her to run without taking off her head

      Sarah Kelly said that was not the case. She said meet
      referees made several demands of her daughter before
      Rogers made his decision.

      "First, they said she had to take her hood off," Sarah
      Kelly said. "Then, they said she can't have anything
      with logos displayed. Then, they said she had to turn
      it inside out. When I told them that there weren't any
      logos on it, they said she had to put a plain white
      T-shirt on over it."

      Bowden said: "It never started off about color [of her
      uniform]. It started with her head wear.

      "It wasn't a problem last year, and it's a problem
      this year? Make me understand why."

      Perhaps the most prominent case in the United States
      of an athlete competing in Muslim attire occurred in
      2004 at the University of South Florida. Women's
      basketball player Andrea Armstrong said she was asked
      by her coach to not wear her Muslim head scarf, long
      sleeves and long pants on the court. The school said
      it would appeal to the NCAA for a uniform waiver on
      her behalf, but Armstrong quit the team before a
      ruling was made.

      Kelly, whose 1,600 time of 5 minutes 17.49 seconds and
      3,200 time of 12:00.81 are the fastest of any District
      girl, was hoping to run a time fast enough at the
      Montgomery Invitational to qualify for the New Balance
      Collegiate Invitational in New York on Feb. 8-9.
      Bowden said Roosevelt has no other meets scheduled
      that would allow her to qualify for the event, which
      attracts dozens of college recruiters.

      "What she needs to do is get some religious
      documentation saying it's part of her heritage and
      bring it with her to every meet," said Jim Vollmer,
      the commissioner of track for Montgomery County public

      Hip hijabs take off in Canadian winter
      Fri Feb 1, 2008 4:41pm EST
      By Julie Gordon


      TORONTO (Reuters Life!) - As temperatures drop in
      Canada this winter, Muslim women have a new - and
      warmer - alternative to their traditional hijabs.

      A young entrepreneur from Ottawa has designed
      fashionable head covers, made from water-resistant
      nylon and lined with fleece, which can be worn alone
      or over a traditional hijab.

      The toasty hijabs are the brainchild of Abeer
      Al-Azzawi, a 24-year-old graduate student who got into
      design because of a gap she saw in the clothing market
      for young women.

      "There's so much out there for girls who wear anything
      else, but (not so much) for a 14-year-old who wears a
      hijab, if she wants to go shopping on a Saturday
      morning," said Al-Azzawi, who launched her online
      enterprise, queendom-hijabs.com, about eight months

      She now sells a line that includes a hardy nylon
      winter hijab and a light, organic model she's dubbed
      "So Soy". She has customers in North America, Europe
      and Japan.

      Al-Azzawi's focus is on making head coverings that
      Muslim women in the West can feel comfortable wearing.

      "I can make (hijabs) better for girls who want to wear
      the hijab, but are scared," she said. "I can do that
      for them."

      "Response has been great. Some hijabs are out of
      stock, because the minute they're made, they're out
      the door."

      There has been opposition to Al-Azzawi's designs. One
      woman sent her an e-mail saying that her products were
      not hijabs and that she should not be selling them as

      A traditional hijab is a single piece of cloth looped
      around the head, neck and chest, then tucked or
      pinned. Al-Azzawi's are pulled over the head like a
      balaclava or secured at the neck with velcro.

      Many of her hijabs are brightly colored and stitched
      with contrast piping.

      "The hijab is supposed to be about modesty," said
      Sharifa Khan of the University of Toronto Muslim
      Students' Association. "It's really supposed to
      deflect attention away from you."

      Khan, who is not familiar with Al-Azzawi's designs,
      wears a simple black hijab that covers her head, neck
      and chest. She said it fits with the commandments of
      the Koran.

      But there is dispute as to what a hijab should be, and
      even if it is necessary in this day and age, Khan

      While the controversy hasn't hurt business on
      Al-Azzawi's Web site, so far she hasn't had much luck
      getting her designs on to store shelves in Canada.

      "It's a very specific -- like a religion-specific
      item," said Jennifer Sachs of accessory boutique Clic
      Klak in Toronto's Queen West fashion district. "It's
      not something everyone will buy."

      (Reporting by Julie Gordon; Editing by Peter Galloway)

      Erdogan moves to ease ban on wearing of Muslim scarf
      By Gareth Jones in Ankara
      Wednesday, 30 January 2008


      Turkey's ruling AK party and opposition nationalists
      are trying to ease a ban on women wearing Muslim
      headscarves in universities.

      Turkish secularists, who include army generals and
      judges, have long opposed any easing of the ban,
      saying it could harm the separation of state and
      religion. The issue sparked early polls last year
      after secular rallies and army warnings.

      A proposal was sent to parliament yesterday with the
      signatures of 348 deputies from the AK party and the
      nationalist MHP, whose support is needed to push
      through the reform.

      "Our sole goal is to end the injustice against our
      women students. We have no other aim. These changes
      are limited to higher education," Prime Minister
      Tayyip Erdogan said.

      Mr Erdogan, who once served a short jail sentence for
      reading a poem deemed too Islamist and whose wife and
      daughters all wear the headscarf, has to tread warily
      for fear of provoking the army. The staunchly secular
      army, with public backing, ousted a government it saw
      as too Islamist in 1997.

      The proposal would only lift the ban for women who tie
      the headscarf under their chin in the traditional
      Turkish way. The increasingly popular wrap-round
      version, seen as a symbol of political Islam, will
      continue to be banned on campuses. Burqas – which
      cover the whole body – and other forms of Islamic
      dress will remain banned.

      Turkey divided over headscarf ban decision
      By Nicholas Birch in Istanbul
      Monday, 28 January 2008


      A small square of coloured material returns to the
      centre of Turkey's political stage this week as the
      government prepares to end the controversial headscarf

      The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which
      has its roots in political Islam, has been under
      intense pressure from its conservative supporters to
      abolish the ban since it first came to power in 2002.
      And now it has struck a deal with a right-wing
      nationalist party over the issue.

      The two parties meet in the capital Ankara today to
      fine-tune changes, and analysts expect the package to
      be put to a parliamentary vote this week. Together,
      they have enough votes to change the constitution.

      In the past the move would have been vetoed by the
      President, but the man in the high office is now
      Abdullah Gul, the former AKP foreign minister, whose
      selection last year sparked snap elections and a
      simmering political crisis.

      He appears certain to back the move. "Universities
      should not be places of political controversy," he
      said ahead of today's meeting. "Beliefs should be
      practiced freely." Polls suggest most Turks agree with

      For a vocal minority, though, the headscarf is direct
      challenge to Western lifestyles, a symbol of ignorance
      and backwardness. When 500,000 secularists marched in
      Ankara and Istanbul in spring last year to protest
      against the government's plans to elect Mr Gul
      president, and the army issued coup threats on its
      web-site, it was in part because his wife covers her

      The ban is based on a ruling made by the
      Constitutional Court in 1989 but has only been
      vigorously enforced during the clamp-down on political
      Islam that followed the 1997 military-led expulsion of
      an Islamist party from power. It is widely seen as

      "All citizens should have equal rights," said Ayla
      Kerimoglu, the spokeswoman for Hazar, an
      Istanbul-based group that provides educational
      services to veiled women. "Instead, we're made to feel
      like strangers in our own country."

      Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the ban is
      that it leaves considerable leeway for university
      rectors. While a few turn a blind eye to covered
      girls, some even ban students who try to sidestep the
      ban by putting wigs on when they arrive on campus. In
      2005, a university in the north-eastern city of
      Erzurum sparked a furore when guards refused to allow
      headscarf-wearing mothers to attend their children's
      graduation ceremony.

      But supporters of the ban remain adamant. The planned
      constitutional amendment is part of "a trend towards
      religious dictatorship", said Sabih Kanadoglu, a
      former supreme court chief prosecutor. The head of a
      secularist opposition party, Deniz Baykal, predicted
      "a major constitutional crisis".

      The Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has rejected
      claims that his party was seeking to erode secular
      traditions. "We have a society in which those who
      cover up and those who do not both defend the
      democratic and secular state," he said on Saturday.

      "Hijabs for Life" in Canada
      Sat. Jan. 26, 2008


      CAIRO — Spurred by the ban of hijab-clad girls from
      taking part in sports competitions, Canadian Muslim
      Abeer Al-Azzawi is helping her fellow Muslim peers
      play, work and live with a new hijab fit for everyday
      life, reported the Ottawa Citizen on Saturday, January
      "You see stores that cater to all kinds of girls -- to
      rocker girls, girlie girls, sporty girls -- but
      there's nothing for the hijabi girls," said Azzawi.

      "If I can do something to change that, I will."

      The 24-year-old engineering grad has established an
      online company for making hijabs that suit Muslim
      sports girls.

      Sub-named "Hijabs for Life", the headscarves are made
      in bright colors and fashionable styles with
      contrasting piping or panels.

      The veils are made of the same breathable stretch
      fabric as workout tops and pants with terrycloth over
      the forehead to absorb sweat and pads the opening to
      cushion the face.

      Inside is a pocket to tuck a ponytail.

      There are also hijabs made of soft fleece and striped
      or plain woolly knits for icy winters.

      "None of the hijabs have metal in them -- no metal
      buttons or zippers, nothing to pull off or injure
      anyone," said Azzawi.

      There are also hijabs for yoga and another for

      The issue of hijab wearing in sports has come to the
      fore in recent months.

      An 11-year-old Canadian girl was thrown out from a
      national Judo tournament last November for wearing

      The World Taekwondo Federation, the sport's largest
      organization, ruled last May that women players would
      not be allowed to cover their hair in its

      In March, the International Football Association Board
      (IFAB) said hijab is forbidden in soccer games.

      The ruling came after a Canadian Muslim was expelled
      from a soccer game for wearing a hijab.

      Canadian Symbol

      One of Azzawi's favorite designs is made in the colors
      of the Canadian team in white with red piping and a
      maple leaf just above the temple.

      "If a young girl were to wear this and she was
      competing and they told her to take it off, she'd not
      just be taking off a hijab but a symbol of Canada,"
      said Azzawi.

      Azzawi has received demands for her hijab from the
      buyer and costume designer for Canadian sitcom Little
      Mosque on the Prairie.

      She also hopes that her hijab will also be worn on the
      CBC-TV show's third season.

      So far, Azzawi has sold 85 of her "hijabs for life" in
      Ottawa, the United States, Britain, Belgium and

      Azzawi, whose project was one of eight Ottawa-area
      projects chosen to be funded by the Ontario
      government's Summer Company program, is now aspiring
      for expanding her project.

      "That's a big, big market," she said.

      She now envisions a quirky line of T-shirts with
      sayings like "Islam's cool," and an aquatic line of
      "modest" swim clothes following the "burkini" example.

      The "burkini", a two-piece swimsuit incorporating a
      head covering, a loose-fitting chemise and leggings,
      was designed in Australia to allow women and girls who
      wear traditional Islamic dress to go swimming.

      Hijab has been thrust into the limelight since the
      2004 French ban on the Muslim headscarf at public
      schools and institutions.

      Several European countries have since followed the
      French lead.

      Hijab Bill in Italy Senate
      By Mahmoud Reda, IOL Correspondent
      Fri. Jan. 25, 2008


      TORINO — Italian Muslims have commended an endeavor by
      an senior Senator to draft a law regulating the
      wearing of hijab in the southern European country,
      holding out the hope that the motion would not be
      blocked by the right-wing opposition.
      "Enacting a law regulating hijab wearing will be a
      major achievement," Mohamed Al-Zayyat of the Islamic
      Relief told IslamOnline.net.

      "This law, if passed, will give a legal protection to
      hijab against opposition by politicians, especially
      the right-wingers."

      Senator Silvana Amati, the rapporteur of the Senate's
      constitutional affairs committee, has unveiled an
      initiative to draft a law regulating hijab wearing in
      public places.

      The Italian Senator said that the motion, however,
      would stipulate that the face must not be covered,
      referring to niqab (face-veil).

      "This proposed law will be a victory for freedoms in
      Italy if it really comes into fruition," said Kassab
      Boshti, deputy chairman of the Union of Italian

      "Italy in doing so will be translating its cherished
      values of freedom into concrete steps."

      The Muslim leader said this motion comes to endorse
      the tolerant stance taken by the state towards hijab.

      "The government has been adroitly dealing with Muslims
      and their beliefs."

      Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a
      religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.

      Italy has a Muslim population of some 1.2 million,
      including 20,000 reverts, according to unofficial

      Stumbling Block

      Muslim leaders, however, fear that the right-wing will
      stand as a stumbling block to having the proposed law
      see the light.

      "The right-wing opposition will block any law
      supporting hijab," said Zayyat.

      Ibrahim Al-Amir, the chief editor of Akhbar Al-Shoub
      daily, echoed similar fears.

      "The bill is unlikely to turn into a law because of
      the right-wing opposition," he told IOL.

      The center-right opposition led by former premier
      Silvio Berlusconi has 156 seats in the Senate against
      158 for the center-left coalition.

      The proposed bill must get 160 votes to become law.

      The center-left government of Prime Minister Romano
      Prodi collapsed on Thursday after losing a vote of
      confidence in the Senate.

      Italian President Giorgio Napolitano was to start
      crisis talks on Friday to rescue the country from
      political limbo after Prodi's resignation.

      Napolitano will hold meetings until next Tuesday,
      January 29, aimed at forging consensus for forming an
      interim government instead of calling early elections.

      The center-right opposition is pressing for snap
      elections that opinion polls suggest will return
      Berlusconi to power.

      Prodi's center-left government has opposed attempts by
      right-wingers to ban hijab in Italy.

      Two bills on banning hijab have been stalled in

      One bill called for banning Muslim girls under 16 from
      wearing hijab in schools while the other suggested
      amending the 1975 anti-terror law which bans clothes
      that conceal people's identity in public places,
      including hijab.

      Hijab has been thrust into the limelight since the
      2004 French ban on the Muslim headscarf at public
      schools and institutions.

      Several European countries have since followed the
      French lead.
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