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    We are not angels and you are not the devil in disguise

    Ayşe Arman
    27.08.2006 - 13:50 | Son Güncelleme:

    Writer for Yeni Şafak newspaper and sociologist Fatma Karabıyık Barbarasoğlu wrote of how famous Turkish singer, Sibel Can, has had an affect on Muslim men in Turkey.

    From that moment on, an interesting shift occurred. Some opposed this idea, some supported it and others put forward new ideas. Sociological evaluations followed about the type of women Muslim men preferred. So I went along to talk to one of Kanal 7’s leading directors, Ayse Böhürler (43). I must say, I was comforted by how easy-going she was - not on edge but on the contrary, quite comfortable responding to the questions I put to her. I realised that we could discuss anything. And I realized once more, that it is not right to make generalisations. It is not possible to describe all women with their heads covered as women with turbans. Turkish women all have different reasons for covering up, from parental pressure, to personal preference, to the traditional environment in which they live. Ayşe Böhürler is against the idea of putting everyone under one roof. She looks upon sexual preferences of Muslim men in the same way.

     

    When did you start wearing the headscarf?

    -When I was 21, just after I graduated from university.

     

    Just like that, out of the blue?

    -Not exactly. I had thought about wearing a headscarf before. I tried it when I was in sixth form, but I could not do it. At that time it was a very marginal thing to do. I was left alone when everyone went on their summer holidays. It was quite a reactionary decision in the first place, and I gave up. But I made another attempt.

     

    Your Mother?

    -My mother is a typical Anatolian woman who wears a headscarf. But she was never someone who advocated wearing one. In fact, my family opposed me wearing it. My brothers thought it would be harmful to my working life.

     

    Why would somebody want to wear the headscarf, or rather, why did you want to?

    -It is to do with one’s inclinations, your search for an identity. We are the children of the post-12th September period, we all have this. We need something to hold on to, an answer to our questions.

     

    Choosing to wear a headscarf after 21 years without one… what is it like?

    -It is difficult. Firstly, it is difficult for somebody to get over one’s habits. Whether or not you like it, as soon as you put on a headscarf, your clothes start to change. It is not at all easy to create a new style. But a time comes when you start to think, “This is my choice and I choose a more religious life”.

     

    What do you mean by “a more religious life”?

    -You plan your life according to prayer times. You become more careful with your relationship with different people. You start to think more ‘morally’ in everything you do.

     

    Is all this not possible without wearing a headscarf?

    - Yes it is, and it <ı>is often done. The headscarf is like the icing on the cake –it completes you.

     

    There is an interest in Sibel Can in religious circles. How do you evaluate this?

    - There are a thousand types of men in Turkey. Each one has different preferences, so there will of course be some who prefer plump beauties such as Sibel Can. I do not see anything odd in this. What <ı>is strange, however, is people’s expectations that “Religious men must be perfect”. There is no such thing…

     

    Is it not toying with Allah if a woman has a religious wedding with a married man and sleeps with him?

    -Of course it is. You are contradicting yourself if you do such a thing. The biggest harm will be to you.

     

    In that case, why doesn’t everybody come out like you, and say, “well, this is <ı>our two-facedness”?

    -The Islamic section of society has closed itself up to self-criticism, especially regarding women. It thinks this will be harmful for itself. I do not think this way.

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