ISTANBUL - A campaign termed the "headscarf initiative" led by the secularist Republican People’s Party, or CHP, seems to have ended in hostility and accusations just three months after it began.
At a meeting held Nov. 9 last year, businessman Emin Atmaca was ceremoniously inducted into the CHP, together with many relatives, several of whom wore headscarves or chadors.
Atmaca had applied to run as the CHP mayoral candidate for the conservative Eyüp district in Istanbul. CHP leader, Deniz Baykal, known for his support for the headscarf ban at universities, was photographed pinning party badges on Atmaca and the women at the event. The next day, most papers featured Baykal welcoming women wearing chadors into his party.
Baykal attracted both serious criticism and support from the party and the public. Conservative papers dismissed Baykal’s actions, which the party leader promoted as the "CHP’s headscarf initiative." It took only three months for the initiative to crash and burn amid accusations of unethical behavior. Atmaca earlier this week announced he was resigning from the party, together with those relatives who had joined the party with him.
The women wearing chadors ceremoniously took off their party badges at the meeting claiming that the CHP had deceived them. "I received the offer to run as CHP’s candidate through Mehmet Sevigen. But the moment Baykal pinned the badge on my relatives and me, Sevigen changed and made personal demands I couldn’t have expected," Atmaca said. Atmaca said he was resigning from the CHP together with 7,000 people, according to conservative daily Yeni Şafak.Sevigen said he will take legal action against Atmaca.