19 January 2017

Reina attack highlights widening chasm in Turkish lifestyles

.... A woman wearing shorts was recently beaten on a public bus; a party in a record shop during Ramadan was attacked by local Islamists; and pro-government newspapers blast out headlines against secularism or leftists. There's a siege mentality in the government and a sense of two visions of the country colliding.

"We who wear headscarves were the ones who were oppressed before this government", said Elif Devecioglu, a designer of Islamic women's fashion, which has become Turkey's fifth-largest industry.

"Academics were taking 17-year-old girls into a room to persuade us not to wear headscarves. It was psychological violence… a crime against humanity. This government has the intention to represent all sides but 14 years is not a long time to change mentalities."

Much has changed in Turkey in a relatively short time, and the pious now hold power while the secularists feel under threat. But Turkey also feels dangerously polarised - a trend likely to deepen as constitutional change is disputed. [BBC] Read more