[Blog] Turkey’s attack on Secularism By Jose Mario De Vega

Turkey’s attack on Secularism

I refer to “Turkey imposes ban on piercings, tattoos in all schools” by RT Question More, September 28, 2014.

According to the said report:

“Turkey’s government has banned all school pupils nationwide from having tattoos or body piercings in a new dress code deemed oppressive and unenforceable, according to the law’s critics.

“While tattoos are not widespread among older generations, they have seen a surge in popularity amongst the young and secular sectors of society.

“The measure, imposed by the government and published in the Official Gazette on Saturday, also prohibited a number of other things such as dyeing hair, wearing makeup and moustaches and beards for boys, according to local media reports.”

Said government measure means that “students could be punished through reprimands, suspension or expulsion.” However, “if a student fails to get a tattoo removed the punishment is not yet clear.”

Mario De Vega


I condemn this latest attack by Turkey’s powers that be on the secular fabric of their society. Previous to this, a measure was set that permitted the wearing of “Muslim headscarves in schools.”

I overwhelmingly concur with the critics of the government on their denunciation that these twin set of measures is undeniably “corrosive of Turkey’s secular ideals.”

Indeed, there is a reasonable ground to believe that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s “recent moves constitute steps towards the Islamisation of the country.”

I would to ask, what the hell is wrong with dyeing one’s hair? What the hell is wrong with wearing makeup? What is the problem with moustaches and beards for boys?

What the hell is the point or the purpose behind all of these measures and prohibition?

I have nothing against Islam, but if Turkey is true to what it proclaimed and says to the world that it is a secular country, then they must not only observe, but respect the vital principles of secularism and democracy.

On the Question of the Muslim headscarves in schools

The government has no right to impose to the student to wear the headscarves in school, in the same vein that the same government has no right to ban the same.

To impose to the people what the hell are they going to dress is a violation of their rights, in the same vein that to ban or to restrict what they intend to sport on or wear will also negate and impinge on their human rights!

If the people want to wear the veil, then so be it.

If the people did not want to wear the same, then let it be also, but to impose otherwise or to ban whatever they want is not within the power of the government that calls itself secular and democratic.

My view on this whole controversy is this: those women (whether they are Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Jew, etc.) who wants to wear that veil (or whatever headdress), then let them do so, so long as no one is forcing them to do so!

In the same vein, those women do not want to wear that (whatever headdress is that), then so be it. Again, so long, as long it is their will and no one is forcing or compelling them not to do so
It is my firm belief that the government has no right to legislate and regulate how the hell should or must women dress up!

The government does not own them, but rather they owned the government and so as their bodies!

The government exists to protect the rights of the people, not to trample and violate those rights, because the very moment the government does so, it loses it reason behind its existence!

On the Question of those people who says: Leave Turkey Alone

Answer: if Turkey truly wants to be a legitimate member of the international community, then they have to somehow follow and conform to the universal standard of norms and civilized conduct.

If they do not want, then I say to them: stop dreaming of becoming a full-pledged member of the European Union, because base on your unreasonable measures and oppressive prohibitions, I strong doubt if the EU will ever grant you full membership! So get real and stop your series of irrational acts!

On the Question of the Ban on tattoos or body piercings in a new dress code

I would like to reiterate and strongly stresses that the same is not only absurd and idiotic, but incontestably oppressive!

The immediate question there is: how the hell the authorities are going to enforce the said measure?

I agree with the Head of the Education Workers Union, Veli Demir when he said that “it was unenforceable because tattoos cannot just be taken off like an item of clothing.”

This is what he stated, as quoted by AFP:

“What is going to happen to those (pupils) who already have tattoos? This is not a decision that a reasonable person can take. It is a decision taken without careful thought…”

I completely agree with Mr. Veli Demir that this is an unreasonable decision that we’re undertaken by an irrational powers that be or mindless authority.

Indeed, said measures were decided without careful thought!

As he categorically expressed:

“It is a decision taken by an oppressive mindset. Education is all about contributing to a child’s development and protecting them…”

I am supporting their decision of appealing the said measure before “the Council of State over the dress code as it is against the Constitution, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.”

On the Question of tattoo and body piercing

The said report also highlighted that Mr. Erdogan “has expressed distaste for tattoos in general”. He even asked a young footballer, Berk Yildiz, in July to remove his and questioning: “why do you harm your body?”


Mr. Erdogan, your body is yours and my body is mine. Whatever the hell I wanted to do to with my body, so long as I am not hurting anyone is my business and none of yours. You personally do not want tattoos and body piercing, that is your right, but to use your public position to impose your will is not right, because it will violate the constitution that guarantees the right of the people to our/their bodies and persons.

As the American would say: Mind your fucking business and don’t tread on me!!!

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

Philosophy and Social Science lecturer
Unibersidad de Manila and Polytechnic University of the Philippines

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