Erdogan's minister for family affairs and social policies, Fatma Sahin, has suggested on television that the MPs of the secular republic founded in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire should be allowed to wear hijab, or the 'turban' as it is known in Turkish. Sahin, the only female minister in the Turkish government, said that ''parliament is a mirror of society'', and therefore ''all parts of society must be represented''. ''If we want democracy to move forward it must also include MPs who wear headscarves.'' The ban on the Islamic headscarf in Turkish institutions was introduced by Ataturk to counter the influence of religion in post-Ottoman Turkish society and to foster social progress. However, the Islamic government under Prime Minister Erdogan, in power since 2002, has already lifted numerous bans on headscarves: first for university students, then for teachers and Turkish Airlines flight attendants, and recently for elementary and middle school students during their hours of Koranic studies.
For the moment, the ban on the 'turban' is still valid for state employees, but Erdogan's AKP party (which holds an absolute majority of 327 seats out of the 550 total in the Turkish parliament) is looking into revoking it soon. The ban is also still in force for the parliament of the secular republic, but this will likely change soon. Polls show that opposition to the Islamic headscarf is dropping sharply, and that most people are not against it. After the first, large-scale battle for the lifting of the ban in universities - which the Kemalist front struggled hard against - the subsequent bans were lifted without any political battles being waged in the country. The latest polls show 50% of the population would vote for the Islamic premier's party. And the army, which Ankara created to be a bulwark against potential re-Islamisation, has been brought to its knees.
Hundreds of officers (one in every five Turkish generals) are now in jail, charged with alleged coup attempts against the 'sultan' Erdogan, the unquestioned winner of the contest of wills against the military. (ANSAmed).