The Shameful Conspiracy Against Honourable Women In Tunisia And Turkey
It is hard to believe
or even to imagine that, in a Muslim country, Muslim women are being
banned from wearing hijab (headscarves), state employees are banned from
wearing beards, and workers can lose their jobs if they are spotted
praying in public.
Women have been banned from wearing hijab at universities throughout
Turkey since the beginning of 1998, and it is considered a criminal
offense against the law in Tunisia.
These are very crucial matters in the history of these two countries -
one of which is a former capital of the Khilafah, and the other the land
of the glorious Islamic University Azzeituna.
The same shameful conspiracy is occurring within both countries - not
only against those who have Islamic political beliefs, but also against
anyone practicing Islam.
Thousands of Muslim women have been expelled from their work places; and
universities, schools and even hospitals will not admit them. Scenes of
police on campuses removing women students who have refused to take off
their hijab have become all too familiar.
At the same time, the government regimes have placed them under an
internal economic siege in which they are facing the intense pressure of
being without a source of income for their families. In some cases, they
succumb - removing their hijab so that they can provide the basic
necessities of life such as food, shelter, medicine and clothing for
In October 1998, four million protestors demonstrated in various cities
in Turkey in support of female students who had been suspended from
universities for refusing to remove their hijab. The police attacked
thousands of the demonstrators for peacefully participating in the
protests, which were staged at night. Many women and young girls were
Several journalists, lecturers and students were charged with treason,
and many people were tortured by the police - even youth at the mere age
of 13 and 14 - and treated as if they were criminal suspects.
Political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in Turkey are not
allowed free and open access to their visitors; they have been forced to
speak to them through a series of bars and reinforced plastic sheeting.
According to IHRC Rapporteurs, various methods
of torture have been used against some of the prisoners at the hands of
· The use of electric shocks on different parts of the body,
including their genitalia;
· Beating prisoners while they are blindfolded;
· Exposing naked prisoners to winter weather through open windows
after dousing them with cold water;
· Raping women, young girls and even children.
Feliz Beyaz, born in
Istanbul in 1975, passed the university entrance exams in 1996 and was
arrested in 1998 during demonstrations against the banning of hijab. One
week after her release from jail, at half past midnight, Feliz and her
friend died on an Istanbul highway after being knocked down by the
secret service in a hit and run accident. This method of murder is
common in Turkey.
The following story is that of a young Turkish girl who has been asked
to choose between attending school and her religious beliefs:
"Today, my school looks at me as [though I am] a
stranger and tells me that I am a stranger. However, yesterday, I was
the owner of these lands. Tomorrow? I do not know what will happen
tomorrow. Will the corridors of the hospital that I have walked
[through] for many times claim me again? Will the garden that I have sat
for many hours of the guard nights take me to its bosom?
"Our efforts to save the lives of patients, taking
their blood pressure.... my friends that I have competed with to take an
EGG... My heart beats that I felt when I first made an IV injection...
Will they take place in my life, again?
"For five years, I have attended this faculty with the excitement, which
I felt the day I first wore the white clothes... I have become eager by
listening to the dreams my father had about me. I have striven to see
the happiness and pride in my father's eyes and to take my mother's
"When I saw the patient losing his life due to lack of medical care, I
decided to work harder and prayed more. I prayed to Allah not to keep me
away from my way and to let me be a real doctor that helps the others.
"But suddenly, someone said, "STOP"! You have no chance to enter here
with these clothes, especially the funny thing you wear on your head.
And then the doors were closed to my face roughly. The police stopped me
entering my school that I had reached by the first lights of the day.
"My friends that I had shared the same desks for many years were able to
do nothing. The professor who had been expressing his gladness about my
success to the classroom was, now, at the door near the policeman. He
was sorry... I could see this in his ashamed eyes. The only thing I can
do was to cry out my innocence.
"I am really sad to see the ugly face of my elders. But I am not
hopeless, I know and I believe that these days and oppressions will end
somehow, someday. They will become 'memories' from the past."
In Tunisia, the situation of Muslim women is almost the same as in
Turkey despite the claims of President Ben Ali about his social
achievements and the improvement in the status of women in Tunisia over
the last decade.
In an interview with "Al-Hawadeth" Magazine in 1997, after the
celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Movement of Change, President
Ben Ali said, "In this respect, we are moving forward, on the basis of a
complementary conception, in such a way as to safeguard the dignity of
women while preserving the interests of the family and the security of
society. We have been concerned to ensure an equality of opportunity
between men and women and to renew legislation regulating the sphere of
These statements were made while Muslim women
wearing Islamic hijab were being banned from schools and work places
across the country.
Out of a total population of around nine million, there are more than
3,000 prisoners of conscience - most of whom are Islamists - and there
have been dozens of deaths due to torture, and food and sleep
Human rights organizations have found it increasingly difficult to carry
out their activities in defense of human rights in Tunisia. The Tunisian
government often targets them, accusing their public opposition to its
widespread violation of human rights of being against democracy and in
favor of the Islamists.
PCOT defendant Iman Darwiche reported that guards incited her mental
illness by torturing, choking, and spitting on her, and defecating on
her personal effects. The government does not permit the media or
international organizations to inspect prison conditions.
The regime targets women purely for their
marriages to or blood relations with Islamists. Violations against them
include harassment, interrogations, dismissal from work, torture, sexual
abuse and rape. Anyone, including relatives, who assists wives of
prisoners or exiled political opponents is liable to prosecution.
Many reports have affirmed that Security Services uses different forms
of inhumane torture and degrading treatment against prisoners of
conscience. The torture includes methods such as electric shock,
cigarette burns, beating them with police batons, submersion of their
heads in water and/or chemicals, and food and sleep derivation. Other
methods of torture have been used against Islamists in prison that are
hard to describe - even harder to imagine.
Over the last few years, many prisoners - particularly women and
children - have become mentally, psychologically and physically ill
because of the cruelty and inhumanity that they have suffered at the
hands of regimes who are obsessed with using their power in a conspiracy
against their own people.
Is this what President Ben Ali meant by "the improvement in the status
of Tunisian women and the security of society?" Is this what he meant by
"the equality of opportunity between men and women?"
Maybe he was talking about equality of opportunity inside prisons, where
all prisoners face the same methods of torture without differentiation
between men and women.
This shameful agony - being faced by honorable women in Tunisia and
Turkey - is for no other crime than adhering to their religious beliefs.
Allah (SWT) says in the Qur'an (Sura'tul 85:8),
"And they ill-treated them for no other reason than that they believed
in Allah, Exalted in power, worthy of all praise."