After reading the article “Turkish community holds protest at LSU,” as a Turkish American, I have to say those protestors do not represent me or the Turkish community at large. I find their statements manipulative and far beyond truth. Regardless of their attempts to cloud public judgment, the truth will prevail.
Currently, there are four parties represented in the Turkish Parliament. In 2011 general elections, Prime Minister Erdogan’s party got 50 percent of the general vote. Over the last decade, the Erdogan administration led the nation’s growth economically. Despite worldwide recession, in May 2013, Turkey paid all its debt to IMF for the first time in the last 19 years.
Just this month, the PEW Research Center published its latest poll on Turkey. The poll found a majority— 62 percent — had a favorable view of Erdogan. His people support Prime Minister Erdogan according to the election and independent poll results and these protestors have the audacity to call him a dictator.
The local protestors make the claim that the legislation is becoming increasingly Islamic-oriented. Since the 1980s, there was a ban on headscarfs at universities, meaning those who chose to wear headscarfs were banned from universities. Women who choose to wear headscarfs do so as an exercise of their faith. These students were forced to make a choice: either take their headscarfs off or leave the university. They have been robbed of their educational rights.
Finally, the Higher Education Council of Turkey lifted the ban and gave everyone their right to an education. There are no laws or regulations forcing headscarfs on women, and the Erdogan administration has no desire to change that. Wearing or not wearing a headscarf is a choice and cannot be forced on anyone.
Local protestor Nabi Ozoral, stated “(Erdogan) changed the traditional high schools and made them religious schools.” The fact is, in addition to the traditional schools Turkey had, now there are religious high schools parents can choose from. As Americans, the idea of religious schools is not a foreign concept.
In fact, we have many schools with religious affiliations in our community. Nevertheless, the majority of the high schools are traditional.
People have the right to voice their opinions within the laws of the land. The protestors in Turkey had the right to protest, but the protest lost its legitimacy when the protestors started to vandalize local businesses, physically and verbally attacking women with headscarfs and burning and destroying government and public property.
What do the protestors really want? They want Erdogan and his administration to step down. Prime Minister Erdogan is an elected leader and has the support of the majority. Those who came with democracy will only leave with democracy. The last time I checked, Turkey is a democracy.
business owner, Ph.D. student
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