University of Istanbul forces dress code conformity

Zehra Guneser


We the students of the medical faculties of the University of Istanbul
write this letter to bring to the attention of international human rights
bodies and to civil liberties groups of our plight in relation to recent
developments about the issue of hijab (headscarf) in the Republic of Turkey.

We are group of about 500 female students who have been affected by this
unjust demand by the university authorities that we uncover our heads to
achieve our educational objectives. Recognising that Turkey is a democracy,
we feel we should be allowed to dress according to our faith and personal
beliefs. Turkey is a free country where people should be allowed to voice
their opinion freely and should not be denied basic human rights just
because some choose to cover their heads.

Now with the beginning of the new academic year all students in Turkey who
wear headscarves are being told to uncover their heads by the authorities.
They are being told: "You may use your right to education only if you
uncover your head".

We believe the right to basic education and to higher education should be
accessible to all on the basis of merit as mentioned in Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, regardless of their colour, race, religion or
form of dress.

To protest peacefully against this illegal, unjust and coercive rule, we
have decided to join the campaign " It is in our hands". On Sunday the11th
of October almost 2-3 million people will join hands and form a human chain
from Istanbul to Ankara, from Ankara to Hopa and Antep. We hope this will
pave the way for a dignified resolution of our just demands. We are
striving to be members of a community, which is free, at peace, and has
respect for basic human rights.

"The destiny of human rights is in the hands of all our citizens in all our communities" - Eleanor Roosevelt