Saturday, October 28, 2006

Women-only park plan causes stir in secular Turkey

ISTANBUL - Strong reaction to a plan for a women-only park in Istanbul has focused attention on the divisions between Turkey’s secularists and supporters of the ruling AK Party, which has its roots in political Islam.

Critics of the plan see it as the latest sign that the ruling party is trying to push through an Islamist agenda, but several female voters in the district said on Friday they loved the idea.

News that the AK Party-run municipality of Bagcilar was planning to create a park exclusively for women, reported in the local press this week, prompted a fierce reaction among secular Turks who say the party is trying to give Islam a greater role in public life.

The controversy reached parliament on Thursday, when opposition CHP lawmaker Bihlun Tamayligil asked the assembly: ”Can you reconcile the principles of the Republic with applying the segregation of men and women?” according to local media.

The row is the latest of several between pro-secular and Islamist-leaning camps in Turkey, which is officially secular but overwhelmingly Muslim.

Full article (Khaleej Times)

See also: Poll: 12 pct of university students say 'honor' killings normal (The New Anatolian)

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