In a fresh gesture of defiance against the new Turkish president, the country’s army refused to invite his wife to a military parade marking Victory Day. The military fear that President Abdullah Gul, whose wife wears a Muslim headscarf, will undermine secularism in Turkey.
Gul seems determined to avoid confrontation with the army, and says his government will respect the separation of state and religion enshrined in Turkey’s constitution. At the celebrations in Ankara, he was seen shaking hands with the army chief of staff.
The wife of prime minister Tayyip Erdogan also wears a Muslim headscarf. She, too, was absent from the celebrations. The headscarf is currently banned from public institutions in Turkey, but the president says women should be free to wear it if they wish. The Turkish military see themselves as the guardians of secularism, and have ousted four governments in the past 60 years.