European ruling upholding hijab ban in Turkish universities demonstrates the fallacy of 'freedom' in the West
London, UK, November 13th – Last Thursday, the European Court of Human Rights upheld Turkey's ban on Muslim women entering its universities while adorned in the hijab (headscarf). The Grand Chamber, the court of last appeal ruled against Leyla Sahin, a Turkish student barred from attending Istanbul University Medical School in 1998 due to wearing the hijab. It commented that in a society such as Turkey where men and women are equal, a ban on religious attire such as the headscarf was justified on university premises. It further stated that the notion of secularism in Turkey was consistent with the values underpinning the European Convention on Human Rights and that in its verdict, it recognised Turkey's effort to maintain women's rights in its constitution and the need to maintain public order.
The decision sets a dangerous precedent, providing legal ammunition to other secular states who wish to ban Muslim women from entering universities while adorned in the hijab. Moreover, it illustrates the double standards in the protection of religious freedoms by secular institutions who seem to advocate that the violation of human rights is acceptable against Muslims who adhere to Islamic values. The ruling will impede the educational aspirations of thousands of Muslim women across Europe who wish to pursue higher studies while adhering to their religious beliefs.
Dr. Nazreen Nawaz, the Women?s Media Representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain commented, "This ruling effectively legalizes religious discrimination against Muslim women. It will permit secular European states to shift Muslim women into the realm of second-class citizenship with regards to the protection of fundamental rights such as education and religious _expression. It appears that the propagation of women's rights and gender equality by various secular bodies does not extend to the right of a Muslim woman to pursue a successful education while abiding by her religious convictions .It once again demonstrates the fallacy of 'freedom' within Western secular societies – one is only free as long as one abides by the dictates of government"
"As Turkey prepares to integrate into the European Union by strengthening its democratic and secular foundations, this ruling demonstrates that Islamic values will be the sacrificial lamb from this political union. Abiding by Islamic obligations has already been defined as a public disorder act by the highest court in Europe. While the European Commission pressures Turkey to improve its human rights record, this apparently excludes those who live by and advocate Islam. This verdict has served to convince Muslim women further that only the unification of Turkey and all Muslim counties under an Islamic Caliphate state will guarantee the protection of the rights and honour of women in the Muslim world."
Dr Nazreen Nawaz
Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain