bitter choice; to take off her hijab or give up her dream of a medical career
Bitter choice; to take off her hijab or give up her dream of a medical career
Cairo, February 28: One year before graduation to become a doctor, Turkish medical student Fatma Orgel was put in a bitter choice; to take off her hijab or give up her dream of a medical career.
“I could either not finish my degree, or go to another country to study,” Orgel told The Sydney Morning Herald Saturday, February 27.
One year before Orgel’s graduation, Turkey enacted a law in 1999 banning hijab on campus.
The legislation left the young Turkish student torn apart between her aspiration of becoming a doctor and her hijab, an obligatory code of dress.
“When the ban came into force my parents saw their dreams of me becoming a doctor disappearing,” Orgel, now 35, recalled.
“They begged me to take off the headscarf and keep going to university.”
But, Orgel, who grew up in a traditional family to a religious teacher and a housewife in the south-west city of Antalya, could not think of taking off her veil.
Eventually, she took the hard decision of going abroad to Hungary to complete her medical studies.
“I said no,” she recalled.
“In the end I was lucky and I found a way to continue my studies, but most others cannot do this.”
Completing her studies, Orgel returned to Turkey to stumble with the hijab ban in government offices, leaving her with no option but to leave the country for London for working as doctor.
“I worked there for 12 months and I forgot I was even wearing the headscarf,” she said.
“No one cared. I kept having to tell myself that I was wearing it, even though I was working in a big state hospital.”
Hijab has long been a highly divisive issue in the overwhelmingly Muslim but secular Turkey.
It has been banned in public buildings, universities, schools and government buildings since shortly after a 1980 military coup.
In February 2008, the parliament voted to overturn the ban on wearing the headscarf on campus, but the decision was later overturned by the High Court on the ground it infringed the country’s secularist principles.
Orgel says that lots of misunderstanding are prevailing in secular Turkey about hijab and modernization.
“The Turkish nation always looks to the West, to Europe, and believes that banning the headscarf is a step towards modernization,” she said.
The Turkish doctor said that the ban discriminates against hijab-clad women who want to abide by the Islamic teachings.
“The real effect is the opposite,” said Orgel.
“It means that women who observe the Qur’an are barred from a university education.”
The hijab ban also denies Turkish women who are aspiring to escape a lower socio-economic class the opportunity.
“When Islam is viewed from the outside, many see the scarf as the symbol of repression, that we are being forced to do this against our will,” she said.
“I made the decision when I was around 15 that I would wear the headscarf.
It became part of my spirituality, part of my perception of life.”
Orgel is now a member of the executive board of AKDER, a human rights organization that fights discrimination against Muslim women.
“Why is wearing the headscarf not my decision?” Dr Orgel asks.
“If I decide to wear the headscarf, then I should be able to wear it. Why should I not be free to make my own decisions?”
- The Hijab .. Why ? by Muhammad Bin Ahmad Bin Ismail AL-Mokadam – Translated by Saleh Al-Saleh [PDF]
This book list the virtues of a critical aspect of this protection: the HIJAB. The characteristics of the Hijab are discussed, bringing the glad tidings promised (by Allah) to those women adhering to it. It also points out the danger of dazzling displays of ornaments and beauty as well as the terrible repercussions in this life and in the hereafter for those who practice Tabar’roj.
- I Appeal To Your Sense Of Shame My Muslim Sister..Will You Not Respond ? – Nawaal Bint Abdullah [PDF]
From Al Haramin Foundation