Turkey Appoints First Hijabi Minister

Making history in Turkey, a veiled Muslim academic woman has been appointed as the first hijabi minister in the secular country, AFP reported on Saturday, August 29.

Aysen Gurcan, a 52-year-old academic, was appointed yesterday to be the minister in charge of family and social policies in the provisional government of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu that will run the country until November 1 elections.

Gurcan, a mother of three, is a member of the board of the Foundation for Youth and Education (TURGEV).

Davutoğlu submitted the composition of the new government to Erdoğan at 7.10 p.m. local time.

Since Tuesday, the prime minister has been making efforts to form a provisional government that will run Turkey until early election is held on Nov. 1.

The June 7 election saw a stalemate with no party winning the majority necessary to form a single party government. Coalition talks between the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the other three parliamentary parties had not produced any result.

All but one party – the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party – had refused to join the caretaker government.

There are 25 ministry positions in the Turkish government. Three vital portfolios – interior, transport and justice – will be allotted to non-partisan figures while 11 posts were to go to the AK Party with opposition parties supposed to take the remaining 11.

Hijab, an obligatory code of dress, has been banned in public buildings, universities, schools and government buildings in Muslim-majority Turkey since shortly after a 1980 military coup.

Turkey’s secular elite, including army generals, judges and university rectors, staunchly oppose easing the hijab ban.

In 2008, Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AK) passed a constitutional change easing restrictions on hijab at university.

Later in November 2012, Turkey has lifted a decades-long ban on wearing hijab in Islamic schools.


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