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The Mystery of the Türban : Participation or Revolt?

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The covering up of women's heads and shoulders for religious reasons (türban) has become the most important valence issue in Turkish politics since the 1980s. Interestingly, various studies argued that the türban was not necessarily a religious symbol or demand, but a means for women to escape the wrath of their families. This study aims to assess the role that religiosity plays in determining attitudes toward the türban, and search for evidence whether the türban is a symbol of traditionalism, rural values, lower class and others. Two mass surveys of randomly selected and nationally representative samples conducted in 2002 and 2003 have been used to constitute a panel study and control group to assess the relative impact of attitudes toward the türban among the Turkish voting age population. The findings of this study indicate that attitudes toward the türban are closely related to religiosity and political Islam, though political Islam does not function as the sole source of such attitudes. In conclusion, the findings indicate that for a large section of the Turkish voting age population the türban is a religious issue, and relates to the meaning and practice of secularism in Turkey.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of International Relations, Işik University, Turkey

Publication date: June 1, 2005

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