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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 1, 2008 / 25 Adar II 5768

Head scarves are potent political symbols

By Anne Applebaum

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It can be a little wisp of fabric, nothing more. It comes in longer versions, shorter versions, versions that cover the hair, others that cover the face. According to Le Monde, you can even get a Viennese stylist to design one in the manner of "Catherine Zeta-Jones and Naomi Campbell," with a whiff of supermodel glamour.


But whatever shape it takes and whatever you want to call it, the political controversy surrounding the scarves that many (though not all) Muslim women use to cover their heads will not go away. Banned in French schools and some German state institutions, the headscarf has just reemerged at the center of an extraordinary lawsuit, one that could, if successful, bring down the Turkish government.


Brought by the chief prosecutor of Turkey, the lawsuit— to put it bluntly and briefly — accuses the ruling party of violating Turkey's constitution and proposes to evict its leaders, including the prime minister and the president, from politics altogether. The central point of this sticky legal clash between the "secularism" of the Turkish constitution and the "will of the nation," as the ruling party calls it (or the "dictatorship of the majority," in the words of Turkey's chief prosecutor), is the headscarf: Last February, the government lifted a long-standing ban on wearing them at universities, and secular Turks are furious.


This kind of controversy is not entirely new to Turkey, where political parties have been banned in the past (and prime ministers hanged in the more distant past) for insufficient secularism. What strikes me as important this time around is the enduring significance, once again, of that simple piece of cloth.


To outsiders, the issue usually seems petty (the International Herald Tribune headlined its editorial"Much ado about headscarves"). Those with an Anglo-American bias — myself included — have often been persuaded that the issue is one of personal liberty: A headscarf should be a matter of "choice." But if politicians are grandstanding about headscarves, maybe that's because headscarves, at least in Turkey and a few other places, are political symbols and not purely a matter of religious "choices."


Fairly or not, in certain Turkish communities, a head covering marks the wearer not just as faithful but also as a believer in a particular version of Islam. Fairly or not, the headscarf carries with it, at least in Turkey, partisan connotations as well as a suggestion of the wearer's views of women. The political scientist Zeyno Baran pointed out to me that most of the wives of the Turkish political leadership wear headscarves; that most of them donned the scarves after their marriages; and that most of them never worked or studied again after that. You can see why women who want something different might feel threatened.


In fact, the Turkish ban was first instituted in the 1980s precisely to protect bareheaded women, as well as the secular students who wanted to remain so. For about 20 years, the ban was relatively successful too. After a few initial protests, it was widely accepted — how else can a deeply divided society survive, unless it creates zones of neutrality? — at least until the current government tried to get rid of it again this year.


For the record, the French headscarf ban — though widely mocked when instituted in 2004 — is at the moment considered a great success, too, at least by the French government. Droves of girls did not drop out of school, as was predicted. Every year, French officials say, there are fewer conflicts over the issue. Over time, they argue, Muslim girls will find it easier to integrate into French society, too.


None of which is to say that Turkey's supreme court can or should oust the government: I'll let Turkey's lawyers fight that one out. But if they try to do so, let's not pretend it's unimportant. And if, someday, this argument comes to our shores, let's not be surprised, either.


In the end, the headscarf debate isn't about a wisp of fabric but about the viability of secular Islam itself.

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APPLEBAUM'S LATEST
Gulag: A History  

Nearly 30 million prisoners passed through the Soviet Union's labor camps in their more than 60 years of operation. This remarkable volume, the first fully documented history of the gulag, describes how, largely under Stalin's watch, a regulated, centralized system of prison labor-unprecedented in scope-gradually arose out of the chaos of the Russian Revolution. Fueled by waves of capricious arrests, this prison labor came to underpin the Soviet economy. JWR's Applebaum, a former Warsaw correspondent for the Economist and a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, draws on newly accessible Soviet archives as well as scores of camp memoirs and interviews with survivors to trace the gulag's origins and expansion Sales help fund JWR.

Comment on JWR contributor Anne Applebaum's column by clicking here.


Previously:

03/26/08: The Olympics are the perfect place for a protest
03/19/08: Could Tibet bring down modern China?
03/12/08: Have political autobiographies made us more susceptible to fake memoirs?
03/05/08: Why does Russia bother to hold elections?
02/20/08: Kosovo is a textbook example of the law of unintended consequences
02/06/08: A Craven Canterbury Tale
02/06/08: French prez' whirlwind romance reminds voters of his political recklessness




© 2008, Anne Applebaum

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