GeriGündem Baykal under attack
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Baykal under attack

ANKARA- The "black chador" initiative from Deniz Baykal, leader of the Republican People’s Party, or CHP, is continuing to draw criticism, even from his own party members who argue that Baykal is betraying the heritage of the 85-year-old party.

Baykal defended his move to register women who wear chadors, saying Turkey could not return to the 1920s or '30s when the CHP was the country’s single, ruling party. He recalled what he called mistakes of discriminating people just for what they were wearing. "Are we going to implement this single-party mindset in 2009?" Baykal said Tuesday.

But the way Baykal defended the initiative was much more provocative than the move itself for some CHP deputies. "This is disloyalty to [party] heritage. ’You’ll get used to seeing women wearing black chadors and headscarves’ wasn’t the statement from [former president] Özal. No, we’ll not get used to the wrong attitudes," Necla Arat, a CHP deputy known for her firm stance on secularism, told reporters in Parliament yesterday.

Arat said fundamentalist circles had been trying to undermine secularism for years and Baykal’s statements were not good at such a moment. When asked if there was a policy change, Arat said that according to the party's internal regulations, policy changes are only made at party assembly meetings. "If there is such a change, the deputies are not aware of it," she said. Fatih Atay, CHP deputy from Aydın, talking to reporters yesterday, said Baykal was only reflecting his personal views and that they had nothing to do with the party’s official stance. "These cannot be the CHP’s views. He is denying himself," he said. Meanwhile, a group of CHP deputies discussed whether or not to send a letter to Baykal to express their uneasiness with his recent statements.

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