Turkish Cypriot educators in the north are up in arms over the appointment of a teacher who showed up at her school wearing a hijab.
Teachers at a high school in Lapithos/Lapta refused to enter their classrooms as a sign of protest against their new colleague’s appointment.
The female teacher was assigned by the Turkish Cypriot Education department to her duties on October 25, according to daily Yeni Duzen, while other media reported that officials tried to accommodate demands by protesters but without making it clear whether the appointment had been rescinded.
KTOEOS teachers trade union chairwoman Selma Eylem, who said the issue was not about the dress code, pointed fingers at what she described as attempts by Turkey to impose “political Islam” onto the Turkish Cypriot community.
A teachers union chairwoman said the issue was not about the dress code but about attempts by Turkey to impose ‘political Islam’ onto the Turkish Cypriot community
Eylem accused Turkish consular officials in the North of trying to divide the local community, adding that her trade union would continue to oppose a religious agenda including a theology college that was built outside Lefkosa.
Two months ago, a similar incident involving the hijab took place in the south, where a female high school student was sent away for showing up to school with a headscarf.
The school principal, who had been newly assigned at the Greek Cypriot public high school, argued that the student had violated the dress code. But government officials sided with the teenager, described as being of Syrian descent, citing a culture of tolerance and saying the student had every right to continue wearing the hijab at her school and inside the classroom.
Reports said the high school principal had offered to step down upon hearing from police that a large protest was in the works. Students from other schools were reportedly preparing to show up and block the principal’s way outside the school’s entrance the next morning, but they backed down following news of his transfer to another department.
The issue stirred up discussion for many days, with many taking to social media either showing support for the teen or opposing the school principal’s transfer.