Turkish main opposition’s first headscarved official wishes focus was on her credentials

The first headscarved official to be elected to parliament from Turkey’s main opposition secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) has said she regrets discussions focusing on her Islamic attire instead of her credentials.

Twenty-seven-year-old lawyer Sevgi Kılıç was on CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s 80 key nominees list and elected to the party’s parliamentary assembly in the party's congress over the weekend.

The election of Kılıç marks the first time the CHP, formerly staunchly opposed to the donning of the head veil, has elected a headscarved official to parliament, sparking a debate around the party’s secularist identity.

“I wish I was being discussed for my identity as a lawyer and CHP member and not as a headscarved woman,’’ Diken news site quoted Kılıç as saying. “Because being identified his way only categorises us women.’’

Kılıç rejected claims that she was being used as window dressing by the CHP to shore up more votes and the party is leaning right in its political identity.

In recent years, the CHP has moved to embrace Turkey's conservative population, a move that has come under criticism by some long-time supporters of the secularist party.

Defining herself as social democrat, Kılıç said the CHP is looking to “bring democracy to all of Turkey’s citizens.’’

Kılıçdaroğlu was re-elected as chairman of the CHP in the party’s two-day 37th regular congress, which began on July 25 in Ankara.

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