One of two women accused of assaulting a headscarf-wearing woman in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district last year, was fined for “insulting religious values” by a court on Friday.
The two women were at a polling station to cast their vote in elections on June 24, 2018, when they engaged in an argument with Zeynep Yıldırım, a polling official representing the Justice and Development (AK) Party at the station.
The women, identified as Emel Oral and Sühendan Göy, are accused of shoving Yıldırım and pulling her headscarf before other people at the polling station intervened and rescued the victim.
Prosecutors sought prison sentences for the two for attempting to deliberate injury. The women were released pending trial and did not attend Friday’s hearing. The court ruled for the acquittal of Emel Oral and ordered a six-month prison term for Göy for insulting religious values. The court then commuted the sentence to a fine of TL 3,000 for her “good manners” in earlier hearings.
Speaking to reporters after the hearing, Aydoğan Ahıkan, a lawyer and head of AK Party’s Kadıköy branch said “justice prevailed.”
“This was not only a case involving a sister who is a member of our party but the case of a woman whose dignity and religious values were attacked and we expected this ugly attack not to go unpunished,” he said. Ahıkan said they stood against “a hate crime” and their fight against “oppressive, intolerant mindset” would continue. “Violence against personal rights and freedoms just because a person wears a headscarf is the reflection of this mindset,” he said.
Headscarf-wearing women in Muslim-majority Turkey sporadically face harassment from secular extremists. They have been victims of bans and mistreatment in the process leading to the infamous 1997 coup by the secular elite as well as in the decades preceding it, had to fight for their basic rights. Successive AK Party governments which found overwhelming support from headscarf-wearing women, were instrumental in restoring their rights, including the removal of a headscarf ban for women in the public sector.