The women who spoke: The first broadcasted interview
[This translation is a shorthand of the conversation that took place between Nuraycan (The woman), another lady and the presenter. This is not a word for word translation, just displays the most important elements of the interview]
Presenter: but its Shia islamic?
Second Lady: It’s not important that its Shia law it’s important that Iran is muslim. I like Iran.
Presenter: Do you like Ataturk?
[Silence and Pause]
Nuraycan: Do I have the right in the Republic of Turkey to dislike Ataturk? If nothing will happen to me for saying this, no I don’t like him.
Presenter: Why? The person who saved this country…
Nuraycan: Because I don’t believe that when he took the power from the Sultan, he took it to create a Turkish Republic
…. if in the name of Ataturk you are going to limit my freedom and my rights, you can’t expect me to like Ataturk.
Second Lady: We were all muslim. It is only because in the name of one man, we have created a whole ideology that this question is being posed to me (Nuraycan suggests that her issue is with the ideology not Ataturk but that the negative energy towards what she says is created from the fact that they are holding Ataturk and the ideology as one and the same).
We know he was a good soldier, and we know it is because of this that we got the Turkish Republic, we aren’t arguing with that.
Presenter: But you don’t like the man who did this for us, that saved Turkey?
Nuraycan: To be honest many people may have my view but if I political party were to form in favour of people with my view it is immediately abolished in the name of Ataturk, or in the name of the republic, or democracy, whatever that may be they take our freedom out of our hands.
Two condemning women ask: You say you dislike Ataturk and the regime, what type of regime do you want then?
Nuraycan: I want us to have rights. I feel we have been threatened by the people who believe we are against the republic to be made to feel we don’t have a voice.
Presenter: You say it as though you are saying ‘you’ and ‘we’ as though you separate us as believer and non-believers of Islam which is not right.
Nuraycan: I am not making comments on your faith. What your religion is is none of my business, your religion and beliefs are your choice.. You could be muslim, of another religion of have no religion at all, it’s not an issue. The issue is that we as headscarved muslims are treated as minority citizens, and that you have issues with us practicing our faiths. We should be entitled to the same freedom as any other person.
I embrace the republic, I just want the people who want to wear headscarves to be given the right to do so.
Opinion and debate
I think Ataturk was a man who did fine things for Turkey and I feel Turkey has come far as a more modern islamic country. I think the rights that were given such as voting, the rights of the people for running the country, the rights to women cancel out the small changes to religious rights.
We can see that Ataturk had a view that restricting the happiness of women that wear headscarves was a necessary evil for a more long term happiness, a happiness of the state driven by modernisation, westernisation and all the positive developments that occur with it.
The Headscarf debate opens up a bigger philosophical quandary, the ethical plausibility of a Utilitarian view of politics. Is it okay to sacrifice the short-term happiness of people in the state for a bigger vision that promotes and facilitates maximum happiness in the future?
Is there another way of tackling the problem? Is there another way of developing and maturing the ideology of the state without restricting rights and freedom?