Omanese scholar victim of headscarf ban in Turkey
ISTANBUL: An Omanese scholar, invited to take part in a conference in Turkey, was barred from the venue — a university in Istanbul — when she refused to take off her headscarf, the Milliyet daily reported Thursday.y.
The Islamic-style veil is banned in universities and public offices in mainly Muslim but strictly secular Turkey, where it is regarded as a statement in favour of political Islam. The unsuspecting Samira Moosa from Sultan Qaboos University in Muscat turned up for a conference on communication at Istanbul University, but was asked by security guards at the gate to take off her veil. “She told them she had never taken it off and left,” the dean of the university’s communication faculty, Suat Gezgin, told Milliyet. The dejected Moosa subsequently boycotted a cocktail and a dinner organized as part of the conference, which were held outside the university campus.
Organizers of the conference told Milliyet they didn’t realize there might be a problem in inviting Moosa because they thought she was a man. Also, a Muslim teenager returned to school after Oklahoma education officials backed down in a row over her religious headscarf, and agreed to admit her, hijab and all.
Wearing a white lace hijab that hung over her pink backpack, and visibly relieved to get back to her old routine, the 11-year old returned to class after a five-day suspension.
Muskogee education officials had twice suspended Nashala “Tallah” Hearn for wearing her hijab to school violating a provision in the school district’s dress code that bans any kind of headgear. The row drew national media attention and two civil rights groups weighed in on Hearn’s behalf. Muskogee authorities initially defended their actions, pointing to official guidelines that said students could not get exemptions from school rules on religious grounds. But on Wednesday they said they had agreed to let the teen attend class at Benjamin Franklin Science Academy while they re-evaluate the district’s six-year-old policy.
“Obviously everyone has given the policy a lot more thought,” said Eldon Gleichman, superintendent of Muskogee Public Schools as he sifted through a stack of email correspondence on the subject. “Our concern is to get a policy that lines up with all religious beliefs.” Hearn’s father, a convert to Islam, expressed relief that his daughter was back in school. “We have won our battle to get her back in school. That’s our victory,” said Eyvine Hearn. —AFP