Erdoğan to criticize main opposition regarding headscarf bill

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has criticized the opposition parties for declining to hold talks with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to discuss a constitutional amendment package on the use of headscarf and the protection of the family institution.

“My friends wanted to visit them [the opposition parties]. But they refused to meet. They are that honest! Don’t look for honesty in them because they don’t have it,” President Erdoğan said at a meeting in Istanbul on Jan. 16.

An AKP delegation wanted to have talks with the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Good (İYİ) Party and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) last week on the constitutional amendment package submitted jointly by the ruling party and its ally, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). The amendment stipulates protecting the family institution by underlining that the marriage can only happen between man and woman and lifting all the restrictions for the headscarf wearing women in public and private spaces.

The CHP and the Good Party refused to meet with the AKP as the ruling party has launched a parliamentary process for lifting the immunities of two lawmakers, one from the CHP and the other from the Good Party. The HDP’s refusal came after the Constitutional Court temporarily suspended its bank accounts after the application by the chief prosecutor.

“We are aiming to protect the family as an institution against increasing attacks of aberrant trends by the global forces along with strengthening the rights of women,” Erdoğan said, noting no lawmakers would reject this bill of vital importance for the future of the Turkish society.

President Erdoğan accused the opposition of dragging its feet regarding this bill and vowed that the Turkish society will never forgive those who don’t support liberating the use of headscarf in public and private spaces.

“There can be no excuse on not supporting it. If our expectation is not realized and there will be less than 400 parliamentary votes for the legislation of this bill than we will go to the people [for referendum]. The last word will belong to the people,” he suggested.

At least 400 votes out of 600 lawmakers are required to change the constitution. Any bill that receives the support of between 360 and 400 lawmakers goes to referendum. The AKP and the MHP need at least 25 votes to take the constitutional draft package to referendum.