Turkey: row over statue of naked woman

in Edirne staying on her feet amid controversy

30 January, 19:01

(ANSAmed) - ANKARA, JANAURY 30 - A controversy has erupted in western Turkey over a statue of a naked woman which has been erected by an association appealing to the secular nature of the republic founded by Ataturk. The statue, however, has annoyed many Muslim faithfuls. As reported by the conservative daily newspaper Milli Gazete, and repeated on the website of the lay-sympathizing daily Hurriyet, the case revolves around a statue dedicated to the ''Liberated, Modern Woman''. The statue stands in Edirne, a town near the country's borders with Greece and Bulgaria. In the work, a naked female figure with flowing hair and open arms appears to be casting a veil behind her. The statue was erected by the Edirne section of the Union of Turkish Women in 2004 to mark the 80 th anniversary of the birth of the Turkish Republic, founded by Kemal Ataturk on the ashes of the Ottoman Empire. The country was formed with a secular Western imprint despite is majority Muslim population. Publishing a photo of the statue on its front page, but with the private parts covered over, the conservative newspaper maintains that the women's association has exploited the statue of what it calls an ''erotic woman who is losing her veil'' in order to denigrate Turkish moral values in an act of ''modern bigotry''.

According to the report in Milli Gazete, the femminist union ''stubbornly'' re-raised the statue after it had been knocked down on numerous occasions by local residents. According to the Chair of the Foundation of Anatolian Youth, Abdulhamit Iris, the construction of the statue ''aims at applying psychological pressure on faithful women who wear the veil''.

The ''turban'' as the Turkish Islamic covering the woman's face is called, has for years been at the centre of controversy over where it may or may not be worn, given the country's secular constitution. In theory, its use in government offices should be banned. Since 2010, however, the veil has been reappearing in the country's universities, thanks to efforts by the moderate Islamic government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which has been in power since 2003 and which would like to see women veiled in the parliament buildings themselves. (ANSAmed).

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