Terry Mattingly at Get Religion points us to a story that’s been ignored – not by the press, but by us. Did you know that Turkish troupes crossed into Iraq this week? Well, I did, but by the same token, I didn’t have the slightest clue as to why they did. The answer, he thinks, is linked to another story that I vaguely remember – The Turkish government just recently lifted a ban on wearing head scarves.
The military didn’t like that. Is it possible that the Turkish government wanted to keep the military otherwise occupied, and the population distracted? Mattingly points us to The Washington Post, and to an article that was [buried?] on page A14.
“There’s an obvious connection,” said retired Gen. Haldun Solmazturk, an administrator at Ahmet Yesevi University in Ankara, the capital. In founding modern Turkey in the 1920s, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk encouraged Western attire and restricted religious dress in public as principles of the republic. Turkey’s military, which has long viewed itself as the enforcer of Ataturk’s secular vision, was angered by recent legislation aimed at lifting the long-standing head scarf ban at public colleges. But the religiously observant president, Abdullah Gul, signed the amendments into law late last Friday, the first full day of the military’s strike into northern Iraq.
At the time, “the attention of the Turkish public was firmly focused on the operation,” Solmazturk said. For the observant Muslims who lead Turkey’s government, “it was a very clear and very successful strategy.”
Gee. Too often it’s said, unthinkingly, that religion has caused more wars than anything else. I suspect that the desire to protect our homes and families has been a bigger reason, myself.
But this is the first time I’ve heard that head scarves may be considered a reason to go into battle.