shafak1_ROLF VENNENBERNDAFPGetty Images_women in headscarves Rolf Vennenbernd/AFP/Getty Images

Confused by the Veil

To commemorate its founding 25 years ago, PS is republishing a selection of commentaries written since 1994. In this commentary from 2007, Elif Shafak explains that the headscarf is far from a telltale sign of religious conservatism or fundamentalism, and it is worn by a diverse array of women for vastly different cultural, political, or personal reasons.

ISTANBUL – On July 23, millions of Turks will wake up in a new, post-election Turkey. What will happen is hard to foresee. Turkish politics is full of surprises that only foreigners find surprising. Today, and this seems to surprise most people outside Turkey, it is women, not men, who are at the heart of political debate. Indeed, in these elections, the number of women candidates from all parties has visibly increased and so has female political activism overall.