A strong woman

Of course, in the end it’s Abdullah Gül who’s going to be the next president of Turkey and not his wife Hayrünnisa. But the country is talking about her. About her headscarf, to be more precise. It’s a religious one, tight around the head, no hair to be seen – a political scarf, many Turks call it. For an article in the Dutch daily De Pers I asked numerous people for their opinion about the scarf. One woman said: “Till now, we had First Ladies who just stood next to their husbands as decoration. Hayrünnisa is different. She complained to the Court for Human Rights about the headscarf ban at universities in Turkey. She’s strong and I like that in a woman.”

Me too, so I decided to find out more about the First Lady-to-be. She married Abdullah in 1980, when she was only 15 years old – he was 30 at the time. When she got married, she stopped going to school. In 1998 she wanted to take an Arabic course at Ankara Bilkent University, and was refused because of her headscarf. The complaint at the European Court never lead anywhere: she withdrew it when her husband became Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2004.
And now I’m left in confusion. Is this a strong woman? I don’t know. I hope she is. Maybe she grew strong by standing next to her career-making husband from the age of 15. One day, I want to interview Hayrünnisa and ask her everything.

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