Women and the ‘Turkish Paradox’: What The Headscarf is Covering Up


  • Bronwyn Winter The University of Sydney


In September 2007, Michael M. Gunter and M. Hakan Yavuz published their article titled ‘Turkish paradox: Progressive Islamists versus Reactionary Secularists.’ The article was quickly disseminated within Islamic circles, including on the Muslim Brotherhood Official English website.1

  This article was published shortly after the landslide re-election, in July 2007, of the Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi(AKP), better known in the West as the Justice and Development Party (no direct relation to the Moroccan party of the same name, although the two bear similarities in positioning themselves as centrist, moderate and primary instruments of democratisation, and in obtaining popular support against a state seen as corrupt and repressive [Ciftci and Tekin 2009]). The core argument of the article was that the AKP, in power since 2002, had become an instrument of democratisation in Turkey for both economic and political reasons. The program of economic liberalism embraced by the AKP (albeit already begun by previous governments), resulting in unprecedented economic growth, and a widespread political appeal achieved by professing to temper religious adherence with respect for secularism and democracy, along with an expression of willingness to address the Kurdish question, combined with voter disillusionment with the bureaucratic and militarised Kemalist state, thus turning upside down historical political understandings of the ideas of the ‘progressive’ and the ‘reactionary’.