Poll finds Turks oppose headscarf ban in universities

Poll finds Turks oppose headscarf ban in universities

The newly appointed Higher Education Board (YضK) president”s first comments have led to a flare up in the debate over the headscarf ban in universities.Most of the people in Turkey believe that the ban should be lifted, according to the results of a recent survey.Yusuf Ziya ضzcan, who took up his post as the new YضK head Tuesday after being appointed by President Abdullah Gül Monday, told reporters that the elimination of all bans in universities was one of his visions.

I believe that all problems in universities, including the one with the headscarf, will automatically be solved… If the universities realize their main responsibility science then we don”t need to deal with such problems, he said.ضzcan”s comments were interpreted by most as a hint that he will try to lift the ban on the headscarf, a move that is supported by most of the population, according to a poll by KONDA.KONDA, a research firm owned by columnist Tarhan Erdem of daily Radikal, announced the findings of its latest research last week. The survey was also a follow-up on a study done in 2003 by the same firm.

Most Turks believe the ban on the use of the headscarf in universities is unfair, according to the survey titled Religion, Secularism and Headscarf in Daily Life. When asked whether there should be a ban on the headscarf in universities, 78 percent said it should be allowed, a 2.5 percent rise compared to results of the 2003 poll, while 24.5 percent said donning a headscarf should be banned. But many also approved that students should stop wearing headscarves to continue their education as long as the ban is in place. About 63.7 percent said they would remove the scarf for the sake of education while 26.1 percent think that the student must quit university instead of removing her headscarf.There is a significant decrease from 2003 in the number of those that say civil servants cannot wear a headscarf. In 2003, 37.4 percent of respondents said civil servants cannot don headscarves but this time the number dropped to 19.4 percent. While 68.9 percent think civil servants who want to wear the headscarf should be allowed to do so, 5.8 percent said all civil servants should be wearing headscarves.

96.2 percent believe in a religion:

The survey by KONDA also asked questions on the burdens of religious law in daily life. When people were asked to define their religious beliefs, 52.8 percent said they were believers who try to follow religious practices, 34.3 percent believe in a religion but do not usually practice, while 9.7 percent follow all religious practices and 3.2 percent are atheists.Another question posed was whether restaurants should be closed or remain open during the holy month of Ramadan. Nearly half, 45 percent, said restaurants should be open during Ramadan, while 35.8 percent said they should be closed until iftar, the fast breaking meal eaten at sunset. However only 17.3 agreed that restaurants that serve alcoholic beverages should be open and 10.1 percent said they should be open after iftar. Around 13.6 percent said restaurants should be closed for one month while nearly two-third of respondents said restaurants serving alcohol should be closed during Ramadan.

Application of Shariah:

Most Turks believe that inheritance should be divided equally among women and men. According to traditional Shariah (Islamic law), daughters of the deceased get one share of the inheritance while sons get two shares. Only 6.8 percent of respondents agreed with this, while 92 percent said daughters and sons should get equal shares.Islam also forbids interest, but more than half of the respondents think depositing money in a bank in exchange of interest is normal. The responders were divided when asked whether a woman should have an abortion to stop an unwanted pregnancy; 48.3 percent supported the idea while 40.9 percent opposed it.

One-third of Turkish people think that it is wrong for a man to shake hands with a woman.Relationship between men and women is a subject most respondents agreed with. Only 2.1 percent of respondents said loving each other is enough to live together, while 85.6 percent said they need to have both have the official wedding and the religious wedding, which is not legally binding. Approximately 73.8 percent of the population approves of divorce.