Day 2

Posted on January 4th, 2012 by

Day 2, Gustavus Campus

We began the second day of class by reviewing the assigned readings on political Islam. The class discussed the line between the public and private sphere which we all concluded was very blurry. In Turkey, which since 1923 has had a secular government, religion is considered a private affair and thus religious infiltration of the public sphere is strictly regulated. One issue that arises from this is the headscarf debate. Turkish women are not allowed to wear the veil in public institutions which includes universities. This regulation prevents women who choose to wear the veil from acquiring higher education and has sparked protests, especially among young people. While some people see the headscarf problem as a civil rights issue, others believe it is purely political since the headscarf also reveals one’s political affiliation because religious Turks tend to vote for religiously affiliated parties.

The headscarf debate is one manifestation of the fear of Creeping Islamization of the secular government. Secular Turks fear that by mixing government and religion, their freedom will be threatened. Although when religiously affiliated parties have been in control they have not promoted radical Islam, secularists fear that Islamists are attempting to gradually move the government away from secularism.

The morning discussion of political Islam was followed by an afternoon movie session. The class watched a 2002 film, Ararat. The film centered on the issue of the contested Armenian genocide and its lasting effects. This movie introduces tomorrow’s topic which I am sure will be further discussed in the next post.

Until next time!


One Comment

  1. Karen Kedrowski says:

    Interesting how an article of clothing prevents Turkish women from attending public colleges…just the first layer of a complex issue, no pun intended.