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Western countries 'look down' on Muslim women

Merve Kavakci

Source : World Bulletin / 13 May 2014

Merve Kavakci, a Turkish politician who is currently a Lecturer of International Relations at George Washington University, accused Europe of prejudice regarding Muslim women.

Speaking at an international congress in Istanbul on Thursday on “Perceptions and the Image of Muslim Women in Europe," Kavakci said Western countries look down on Muslims, patronizing them and thinking they need to be trained in humanist values.

"Being from the East is a problem for the West; being a Muslim from the East is a big problem, but the greatest is being a Muslim woman from the East," she said.

She said this prejudice was not just in Western countries, but some Turkish circles share this attitude towards believers in Islam. "It is significant for the image of Muslim world that the ban on women wearing headscarves in the public sector has been lifted by the ruling (Justice and Development – AK Party) government," Kavakci said.

Kavakci is recognized as one the world's 500 most influential Muslims, and has travelled the globe in support of Muslim women's rights since May 2, 1999, when she was precluded from taking her oath in Turkish Parliament by members of the Democratic Left Party, due to her headscarf.

She failed to disclose her American citizenship, which was revealed after elections, which led to her losing her seat in parliament in March 2001. Kavakci won her legal case in 2007, when the European Court of Human Rights found that Kavakci's expulsion from parliament was a violation of her human rights.

The congress, organized by the International Women and Family Association, was held at Marmara University on May 8, hosting a number of women from the academic, media, and business worlds.



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