Merve Kavakci, PhD

Office: (202) 806-5715


Kavakci is a Lecturer of International Relations at Howard University and George Washington University. Kavakci is recognized among the World’s Most Influential 500 Muslims by Georgetown University. She was elected to the Turkish Parliament, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in 1999. However she was prevented from serving her term by the secularists because she wears a headscarf. Kavakci’s political party was closed down and her Turkish citizenship was revoked, banning her from politics for a period of five years. She took her case to European Court of Human Rights and won in 2007.

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World's 500 Most Influential Muslims

For the third year in a row, Dr. Merve Kavakci has been selected to be on the list of World's 500 Most Influential Muslims - a product of The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Jordan.

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The Day Turkey Stood Still

On 2 May 1999, Merve Kavakci walked into Turkey's Grand
National Assembly in Ankara to take her oath of office wearing a blue headscarf, wrapped tightly around her head and pinned
beneath her chin – a hijab in the style of an Islamic woman. A
near‐riot ensued, with around one hundred Parliamentarians
chorusing 'get out get out get out'. In the ensuing days, months and years, Merve Kavakci was vilified by the government, military and media, and became an active campaigner for women's right to dress in the way they feel that their religion requires within the public sphere.

In this groundbreaking book – the first ever published in the West about this extraordinary event – Richard Peres tells the behind-thescenes story of Merve's run for parliament and her famous walk into the Grand National Assembly, and illuminates the complex wider issues that it symbolizes. Can the demands of Islam ever be fully reconciled with those of secular Turkey? Is the hijab a symbol of traditionalism and oppression, or of women's freedom of choice?

The Day Turkey Stood Still has been nominated for the 2012 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, the largest book prize in England.

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