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Turkey: Chronology of Hijab Ban and Protests December 1997 - January 1999

01 June 1999

A deatailed overview of incidents by Shelina Janmohamed.

Turkey: Chronology of Hijab Ban and Protests December 1997 - January 1999

5 DECEMBER 1997- 21 JANUARY 1998
The Chief of Department of Surgery in Cerrahpasa Medical Faculty of Istanbul University, prohibits medical students from wearing the hijab to Surgery classes. Students attending the Faculty of Medicine and wearing the hijab are escorted out.

23 JANUARY 1998
The rector of Istanbul University, widens the scope of the decree by the Medical Faculty to all its departments.

23 FEBRUARY 1998
Students wearing the hijab are forbidden from entering the Faculty campus.

25 FEBRUARY 1998
83 medical students wearing hijab are investigated on the charge that their aim was "to disturb the order of lessons, to cause the annulment of the lessons".

27 FEBRUARY 1998
The ban on the hijab is postponed because of an unexpected uprising against the decree against hijab. Students still unsatisfied and storm the medical faculty.

3 MARCH 1998
The protests end with the declaration "WE WANT OUR EDUCATION RIGHTS IN FREE UNIVERSITIES as in all over the world."

11 MARCH 1998
A student wearing the hijab in one of the Medical faculty classes is removed for six months. The chief of the Institution of Higher Education, emphasises that the ban would be applied in all universities in Turkey.

14 MARCH 1998
The University Rector tells his staff to postpone research in order to apply the ban.

16 MARCH 1998
The number of students being investigated increases to 143.

4 APRIL1998
No student wearing the hijab is accepted for examinations, lessons or training.

17 APRIL 1998
The Dean of the Medical Faculty, his committee of the faculty resign due to the conduct of the rector and his ban on hijab.

24 APRIL 1998
The ban is widened to universities in Trakya, Inonu, Erciyes, Ankara, Karadeniz and Akdeniz.

27 APRIL 1998
The students of not being accepted to examinations protest to the teaching staff.
The Attorney Dean of the Medical Faculty widens the ban to include all Institutions of Higher Education.

2 MAY 1998
The number of students being investigated increases to 230. One student is expelled from the faculty and another is suspended for a year.

4 MAY 1998
The Chief of the Biophysics Department, is fired from due to his opposition of the ban.

9 MAY 1998

The Human Rights Organization in Turkey declares that: "The head scarf is a symbol which represents an ideology."

11 MAY 1998
In Uludag University, 126 students are investigated for wearing the hijab.

14 MAY 1998
The Chief of Microbiology is fired for not applying the ban.

18 MAY 1998
The members of the Organization of Human Dignity and Rights declare their support of students wearing the hijab.

20 MAY 1998
The Dentistry Faculty of Istanbul University, prevents students with beards or headscarf from taking examinations. Thousands of students gather to support their friends, make a press declaration, and then they break up in silence.

22 MAY 1998
Protests against the ban on hijab in many cities of Turkey.

25 MAY 1998
A protest campaign called “a headscarf onto every collar” is initiated. 22 students with the hijab are not allowed to take midterm examinations in the Medical Documentation Department, at Istanbul University.

27 MAY 1998
Chairmen of the political parties, industrialists, union representatives, and many journalists and writers support "a headscarf onto every collar" campaign by putting miniature headscarfs on their collar. The senate of Cumhuriyet University decides to put the ban on the hijab into application. The students protest. In the Samsun 19 May University, Bursa Uludag University and Trakya University, students graduating with top ranking are not allowed to participate in the commencement. In Bursa Uludag University, a student is announced to graduate as the first in ranking although he scores five points less than another student who wears hijab.

28 MAY 1998
The administration of Ko University warns the students wearing the hijab that they would be investigated if they do not obey the rules about dress by the 15th of June.

29 MAY 1998
The students, whose educational rights have been taken away make a press statement to express their distress, fear, anxiety, and most importantly to explain their rights to the ones who do not want to understand.

1 JUNE 1998
Students with headscarves in the apa Medical Faculty are prevented by policemen from taking final exams. This would mean they would fail their courses.

3 JUNE 1998
Students gather in front of the administrative building to protest against the decree by the Rector of Trakya University preventing the students with headscarves from attending the classes .

4 JUNE 1998
The National Board of Higher Education(YK) accepts that Rectors can investigate and even expel students who protest against the ban. The mayors of the districts in Istanbul visit the student who could not take examinations because of their headscarves, to support them. 4 male students are suspended for six months.

5 JUNE 1998
Parents now take up the protest by making a press announcement.

6 JUNE 1998
The Rector of Istanbul University violates the laws once more, by declaring that he would not obey the judicial decisions which would be made at the end of the suit filed by the Association of Pharmacists of Istanbul.

8 JUNE 1998
The police control the final exams at the apa Medicine Faculty. Students with headscarves, are harassed by policemen and not allowed to take exams. The attorneys of the students are not permitted to record the event officially.

8 JUNE 1998
Istanbul University, which is the oldest one of Turkey, falls to 21st in the university rankings in terms of scientific production, due to ideological conflicts.

9 JUNE 1998
Four students with headscarves are arrested for not leaving the examination hall. Although they do not wear headscarf, 11 students from Istanbul University are expelled for supporting students who do wear the hijab.

10 JUNE 1998
Police chase 14 students with headscarves from the examination hall. Students wearing the hijab who had been prevented from entering the exam, join the exam in secret. The examination is cancelled. Two students wearing hijab who were prevented from taking the exam attempt to commit suicide. The parents of the students with headscarves gather at the Cerrahpasa Medical Faculty to support their daughters.

11 JUNE 1998
Students with headscarves, who were prevented from taking examinations, start a sitting protest at the Cerrahpasa Medical Faculty. Leaders of the political parties, mayors, journalists and writers declare their objection to the illegal ban. Examination times are changed in order to prevent students with headscarves from taking examinations. On finding this out, the students try to enter the exams. The police prevent them from doing so. Students and their lawyers are prevented from entering the faculty building. Thousands of people, including the students, journalists and writers, gather at the Science Faculty of Istanbul University to protest against the expulsion of the students from the University. They organise a press declaration, objecting to this illegal act.

12 JUNE 1998
While 362 students celebrate graduation, their friends with headscarves, with whom they had studied for years, protest the ban to regain their educational rights. 15 of 26 students do not graduate because they wear the hijab.

16 JUNE 1998
The police do not permit the students to protest against the ban. Many students wounded when the police use tear-gas. 7 students arrested.

17 JUNE 1998
The court free 21 students who were arrested while protesting against the expulsion of their friends from the university. 10 Deputies have a futile meeting with the Rector. 176 students prevented from taking final examinations in the Veterinarian Faculty. In the Faculty of Medicine, 19 students with headscarves could not participate in the commencement although they had graduated.

18 JUNE 1998
Key figures are interrogated by the Human Rights Commission of the Parliament about the ban on the headscarf. They failed to show a legal base for the ban. The Human Rights Dignity Association from Germany (HDR) visits the protesting students in the front of the Faculty of Medicine and expresses their support. 33 students expelled from Trakya University.

20 JUNE 1998
60 students start a march from Istanbul to Ankara, with their attorneys and parents in order to explain the efforts spent in trying to protect their rights on a legal basis to the President and Deputies, and plead for abolishment of the ban. Deputies, representatives of political parties, mayors, writers, and hundreds of people come to see the students off.

22 JUNE 1998
Signatures of supporters reach 2 million. The students continue their march.

23 JUNE 1998
The Rector of Dicle University, declares that the “dress code” was put into effect not only for the female students with headscarves but also for the male students with long hair, beards and earrings. None of these students would be allowed to enter the campus in the next semester.

24 JUNE 1998
The students on the march are finally allowed into Ankara after being forced to wait outside.

25 JUNE 1998
The students with headscarves meet with the representatives of political parties, trade unions, deputies and with the Chairman of The Turkish Parliament (TBMM).

26 JUNE 1998
Deputies from six different parties (ANAP, FP, DYP, MHP, BBP) send a letter to President Sleyman Demirel and ask him to take care of these students.

29 JUNE 1998
Nuriye Yilmaz, who graduated from the Economy Department of Istanbul University with the highest grades, is not given the championship certificate due to her headscarf. The certificate was given to another student. When he gave this certificate to Nuriye, they were applauded for long minutes.

30 JUNE 1998
The students with headscarves, who want to take the examinations of Istanbul University are faced, once again, with a police barrier.

2 JULY 1998
Although they have graduated from the Medicine Faculty of Istanbul University, the students with headscarves are not allowed to join the graduation ceremony.

7th JULY , 1998
While a final term continues at the Dentistry Faculty in Istanbul University students with head-scarves aren`t allowed to enter the exams.

8TH JULY , 1998
The key of the exam class was given to police at Dentistry Faculty in Istanbul University; and exam hours arranged according to police working hours.

9th JULY 1998
The three most succesful students of Gaziantep University graduate with their head-scarves.

10th JULY , 98
Students who collect signatures against the ban are confronted by harsh interference from the police. Three students wearing head-scarves are taken into custody by police.

11th JULY,98
Five students with head-scarves from Istanbul University Dentistry Faculty are treated harshly by policemen acting in an unresponsible way. They apply to the head attorney general of the Republic, but they receive no response.

15th JULY,98
Some Turkish newspaper writers watch for the opportunity of the lawsuit against a teacher with head-scarf in Germany. As a result, they claim that the headscarf isn’t a human right. If the headscarf is worn in a country where the most people are Muslims , the minority becomes injured!

16th JULY,98
In February, lawsuits about university officials rule that they insulted students and parents,

19th JULY ,98
Prayer action begins every week to pray for the freedom of women to cover their heads.

02 DECEMBER 1998
Bursa Governor, issues a decree preventing Islamic Theology High School students with headscarves, from attending the courses. Bal?kesir University gave suspends several students with the claim that these students had participated in the actions protesting against the YOK (The National Board of Higher Education). The proxy of Konya National Education Head Officer, states that the decree banning the headscarves at schools was applied perfectly and said that the previous year there had been 2000 teachers with headscarves and this number decreased to 50. A second year student at Istanbul University, whose arm was broken by the police as she tried to enter the examination room, appears before the Fatih Court of the first Instance with the claim that she had disturbed the order of the education.

04 DECEMBER 1998
Despite the ruling of the Council of the State against the ban, 6 students at Suleyman Demirel University were given the punishment of suspension for 1 month just before the midterm examinations. It was stated that the Dean of the Sleyman Demirel University, Faculty of Islamic Theology forced female students to uncover their heads even in the Qur'an courses. In addition, students insisting on not uncovering their heads were given punishment of either warning or condemnation.

05 DECEMBER 1998
Although the Council of the State rules that no serious punishment can be given to students due to their dress-code, a 4th year student is expelled for wearing the hijab.

06 DECEMBER 1998
The Dean of the 19 May University, who had suspended 39 students for two weeks for wearing the hijab, states that his punishment was arbitrary.

08 DECEMBER 1998
Students are not allowed to sit for their exams at Mimar Sinan University. Their parents attempt to enter the campus.

09 DECEMBER 1998
Although the Edirne Administration Court rules that those wearing the hijab can attend schools and university, students wearing headscarves still can’t attend their schools.

10 DECEMBER 1998
The students with headscarves attempting to sit for their examinations at the Science Faculty of Mimar Sinan University are faced with a police barricade in front of their schools. Almost 500 students wearing headscarves are not able to attend their schools due to the ban on the hijab.

11 DECEMBER 1998
The High Commission of Discipline of YK(The National Board of Higher Education) expels 20 academics for participating in protests against the ban on headscarf.

12 DECEMBER 1998
The Academic at Uludag University, Islamic Theology Faculty, Prof. Sleyman Uludag, said “It's very wrong to force a woman to cover her head, but it's also wrong to force a woman to uncover it. Both are women's right abuses.”

14 DECEMBER 1998
The President of Turkish Republic, Sleyman Demirel, ratifies the decision of the General Commission of YK (The National Board of Higher Education) to remove the President of Harran University from his position. The Theology of High School students who were not admitted to their schools due to their headscarves protest against this illegal application, in several towns and cities of Bursa Province.

15 DECEMBER 1998
Letters stating that their children were participating in terrorist actions and they would be interrogated in the State Security Courts, are sent to the parents of female students who wear headscarves at Erciyes University. In Istanbul University, Literature Faculty, 3 students are wounded by the police when students attempt to enter the faculty to sit for their mid-term examinations. 23 students are taken into custody.

16 DECEMBER 1998
2000 female students who were not permitted to enter their schools due to their headscarves protest against the decree in front of several Islamic Theology High Schools in Bursa.

17 DECEMBER 1998
The police use their nightsticks to prevent students and their parents from protesting against the ban on the hijab in front of the Bursa Yesil Islamic Theology High School. 15 of the parents are taken into custody by the police who used force.

18 DECEMBER 1998
After the decree stating that female students with headscarves shouldn't be allowed to enter the classes of Islamic Theology High Schools in Bursa some county head officers and assistants are relieved of their duties. The demonstration called "Searching the justice with candles" starts today. Students deprived of their right to education decid to ask for justice with their candles after the Tarawih Prayer.

19 DECEMBER 1998
The administrators of Bursa National Education Directorate began to apply psychological pressure to little school girls to persuade them to take off their headscarves.

20 DECEMBER 1998
12 teachers at Bursa Anatolian Islamic Theology High School are sacked for supporting the students in their protest against the ban.

21 DECEMBER 1998
20 people who attempt to protest against the ban on headscarf, after prayers in Malatya are taken into custody.

22 DECEMBER 1998
In Bursa, 25 parents are taken into custody during the protest against the ban on headscarf . The Directorate (Head Office) of Bursa Islamic Theology High School makes students and parents sign a
document stating that they will obey the decree banning headscarf in lessons. This decree is issued by the National Education Minister.

23 DECEMBER 1998
The Signature Campaign is held in Bursa to give support to the female students deprived of their right to education due to their headscarves. The number of signatures reaches 5,000.

26 DECEMBER 1998
Bursa Governor sends notification to the parents of students who can’t attend their schools due to their headscarves. Parents not sending their children to school are told they will be punished.

30 DECEMBER 1998
The Committee of Ankara University decides to a student to have psychological consultation till he left school. This is because he asked his lecturer to give permission to him to go praying. 36 students at Konya Selcuk University received punishment of suspension due to the ban on headscarf.
Parents protesting about their children's not being allowed to attend their schools made a great demonstration at Gemlik Square just after the Tarawih.

31 DECEMBER 1998
YOK (The National Board of Higher Education) has expanded the area of the ban by declaring that students with beards and wearing headscarves would not be permitted to sit for the examinations of Graduate Education, Proficiency in Medicine and International Students.

01 JANUARY 1999
Istanbul 6th Administration Court ruled to stop the dismissal of a fourth year student at Istanbul University, Science Faculty, Fatma Gkek, from the higher education institutions by coming to the conclusion that incomplete inquiry was conducted to this student.

02 JANUARY 1999
In Tokat at the Republic Square, a crowded group of women protesting against the headscarf tyranny at the universities by lighting candles faced the interference of the police and 80 persons (67 women, 13 men) were taken into custody. The Administration Court of Konya annulled the decree of the Kastamonu Governor stating that punishment of cutting-off money would be given to those not obeying the Dress Code.
A group of lawyers from the Bar of Bursa addressed to the students of Islamic Theology High School and their parents, who had faced the decree of Mr. Tasanlar, the Bursa Governor, preventing teachers and students with headscarves from entering their schools. The lawyers said "Do not submit the ban. You are the ones who are rightand laws are on your side..."

03 JANUARY 1999
The students from Islamic Theology High School and their parents who gathered after the Tarawih Prayer at the Orhangazi Park to protest against the tyranny at their schools faced the interference of police. 29 people (8 women and 21 men) were taken into custody.
The Human Dignity and Rights Organization, the center of which is in Germany, sent letters to the President of Turkish Republic, the Prime Minister, the Justice Minister, the Internal Affair Minister, condemning the pressure and ban applied to the students of Islamic Theology High School. 157 students with headscarves at Ankara University tried to protest against the unjust treatment of the administration but the police hindered the protest.

04 JANUARY 1999
At Abdi Ipeki Park, in Ankara, about 500 students covering their heads protested against the ban on headscarf which had been declared in the previous year. In Fatih Mosque, In Istanbul, a group of people almost 500 in number protested against the ban depriving the women students with headscarves of their right to education. Rabia Ayaz, a third year student at Anadolu University, couldn't have registered because she was wearing a headscarf.

07 JANUARY 1999
The female students covering their heads at Seluk University made a press-release. They stated that they were protesting against the illegal punishment procedures which were in force and they added that they were being treated as they were not the members of this society and not the citizens of this country. The foreign (international) students at Marmara University, Atatrk Education Faculty, Education of Biology Department received inquiries for they had attended the courses with their scarves.

08 JANUARY 1999
The headscarf tyranny at Konya Seluk University reached the peak with the inquiries conducted to 500 people. 339 of those people received suspension from the school. 10 out of 339 people were punished with a suspension for 6 months. Although it was forbidden to give suspension to students during the examination periods in the Code of Selcuk University, the faculty administrations broke this rule and gave punishment to students. After the Tarawih Prayer, 400 students wearing headscarves gathered at the Courtyard of the Sultan Ahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque) and protested against the ban on headscarf by using several slogans.

09 JANUARY 1999
The President of Association of the Islamic High School Alumni, Ibrahim Solmaz, and delegation accompanying him went to Bursa to give support to the students at the Islamic Theology High Schools.

10 JANUARY 1999
The platforms of Mothers injured by the ban on headscarf keeps on protesting against the ban every Saturday at Haci Bayram Mosque; and every Friday at the Abdi Ipeki Park, in Ankara.

11 JANUARY 1999
The National Education Minister, Hikmet Ulugbay, stopped the opening and establishment of schools and courses which were not coed.

12 JANUARY 1999
In Gumushane, the students who had participated in the marching on Dec 24 in order to give support to the students not allowed to attend the National Security lessons, gave written statements to the school administration. YK (The National Board of Higher Education) sent a decree to the presidents of all universities stating that some students wearing headscarves could still attend the courses at Theology Faculties and this had to be prevented as soon as possible. In Bursa Nilfer Islamic Theology High School students were wounded by the nightsticks of the police.

13 JANUARY 1999
After prayers at Kocatepe Mosque, 500 people protest against the ban on headscarf and are faced with the harsh interference of the police. 26 people are taken into custody.

14 JANUARY 1999
At Sivas Cumhuriyet University, students who hadn't been able to sit for the midterm examinations due to the decree banning the headscarf, protest against the Rectorate.

16 JANUARY 1999
In Bursa, several male students at the Yesil Islamic Theology High School burn their midterm reports to protest against the ban on hijab, while, almost 500 female students asking for their freedom of belief release balloons covered with headscarves.

17 JANUARY 1999
Students wounded by the police take reports from the Bursa Forensic Medicine Department.

21 JANUARY 1999
The assistant of the President of Istanbul University, says "There is no restriction on the dress style or hijab in our dress laws which is protected by the Constitution. But, today, the individuals who cover their heads with hijab symbolize an ideology and their intention is to represent an Islamic Identity. Hijab is the expression of a religious identity."

23 JANUARY 1999
Students at Konya Islamic Theology High School are forbidden from attending National Security Lessons unless they uncovered their heads. Some students leave the school because of the restriction.
The president of the True Path Party, emphasizes on British TV that a radical change on human rights and freedom should take place in Turkey. She said that to be able to wear the hijab is a requirement of basic human rights and democracy.

28 JANUARY 1999
Bursa 2nd Administration Court decides to stop the application of the decree preventing the students wearing headscarves from entering the Campus of Uludag University until the lawsuit filed by the students of Uludag University against Uludag University, is ruled.

29 JANUARY 1999
At Sakarya University, inquiries are conducted about the students who hadn't been able to sit for the final examinations after the declaration of the ban on headscarf, on December 31, 1998.

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