The Headscarf Ban and the Working Class

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Devrim
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Feb 3 2008 20:03
The Headscarf Ban and the Working Class

The new (February) issue of Gece Notları (publication of the Internationalist Communist left in Turkey) is out today.

It includes articles on 'accidents', the environment, the eight soldiers, headscarves, Bahrain, Egypt, Pakistan, and the Russian revolution:

Here is a taster in English

Türban Yasaği Ve İşçi Sınıfı:

EKS wrote:
The Headscarf Ban and the Working Class

On 2nd February 126,515 people gathered at the Anitkabir to demonstrate against the government’s attempts to revoke the ban on headscarves in universities. Although it is not on the same scale as last spring’s secular demonstrations, it still shows the extent of popular feeling on this issue.

The army constantly exploits the threat of Shariat. It is little wonder that many workers feel the need to rally in defence of the state when that they are constantly told that “they are going to make this country the same as Iran”. In fact they have gone on about it so much that when he was recently asked for his opinion by the press, Yaşar Büyükkanit refused to comment stating that everyone knew what the army’s views were.

On the other side of the divide, and it is a huge divide, there are those who are shouting loudest about ‘freedom’, and ‘democracy’. It is quite ironic in one way that the same Islamicists who after the Murderous 12th September coup were promoted by the army are now the ones screaming about a lack of democracy, and human rights.

Of course it will come as no surprise to workers to see the hypocrisy surrounding the whole affair. There is no way in which this conflict has anything at all to do with ‘democracy’, or ‘human rights’, or any other ‘fine’ ideals. At the base of this argument is nothing more than a naked struggle for power, a struggle for power in which last November neither side showed any hesitation in risking plunging not only Turkey, but also the entire region headlong into war in Northern Iraq just in order to prove that they were more patriotic than the other.

So where do workers stand amidst all this? Which side should we support, the Army, and its defence of ‘secularism or the government and its defence of individual freedom, and human rights.

For us as communists, it is clear that this is not a struggle in the interests of the working class. It in no way addresses the urgent concerns of workers in Turkey today, the need to defend living standards from yet more encroachments. The working class has no interest in being used as a pawn by either the army, or the AKP.

For workers it is vital to look to their own interests. Issues like this are brought up to create divisions within the working class. The media constantly present us with a series of binary choices, for or against headscarves, for or against terrorism, for or against the European Union… However among these choices there is nothing that defends the interests of workers.

What we say as communists is that this is not the struggle of the working class. That is not to say that we defend the army’s right to control how women dress. Of course we don’t. Nor is it to say that we support the AKP government. What we do say is that this issue is not a class issue, and we have no interest in backing either army, or government in their squalid power struggle.

Devrim

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Feb 4 2008 11:45

Devrim, is it possible to get a translation of the articles on Egypt and the headscarves?

Headscarves was a big issue here in Egypt a bit back. The minister of culture said something along the lines that it was backward and it's one of the causes Egypt is still a developing country. Muslim Brotherhood brought out huge masses to protest his statement and demand his resignation. All this happened when in general the government was cracking down on the whole opposition, prices on staple foods and goods were rising like mad, lots of strikes were starting etc. Muslim Brotherhood did nothing about these issues.

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Feb 4 2008 13:04
Khawaga wrote:
Devrim, is it possible to get a translation of the articles on Egypt and the headscarves?

The Egypt article, and also the Dubai one, are translations from the ICC.
The ICC has run three things on Egypt in English recently:
http://en.internationalism.org/wr/304/egypt-germs-of-mass-strike
http://en.internationalism.org/wr/308/struggles-egypt-bangladesh
http://en.internationalism.org/wr/309/egypt-independent-unions

The headscarf one is as above. Gece is 16 A% pages a month. With pictures, and headline that is a one page article.

I saw there had been some stuff about headscarves in Egypt recently. Did they ban them in hospitals?

Devrim

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Feb 4 2008 13:56

Cheers, Devrim. Thought the text above was just a snippet.

They did discuss headscarves quite a bit, though can't remember they banned them in hospitals. I would be very surprised if they did do that. And I was recently in a hospital and I can't remember not seeing them. Though, I think the niqab was banned at the American University in Cairo. Security reasons they say, which is probably the truth.