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Turkey: Other headscarf incidents refute CarrefourSA’s claim of isolated case


Istanbul, (TODAY’S ZAMAN):

Reports of other headscarf incidents related to CarrefourSA, a French retail chain that is cooperating with the Turkish Red Crescent (Kızılay) in a campaign to deliver food to those in need during Ramadan and is facing allegations of discrimination against a headscarved volunteer at a Kızılay booth inside one of its stores, disproves the company’s claims that it was an isolated case and does not reflect the institution’s policy.

CarrefourSA, which operates in Turkey in partnership with Sabancı Holding, on Sunday reportedly prohibited a headscarved worker from volunteering in a booth located on its store premises where aid packages were being collected. Facing harsh criticism by rights groups and the media, the company claimed that the incident was an isolated case and that there was no institutional policy against headscarved women in its stores.

However, other reports of discrimination against headscarved women in other CarrefourSA stores show that the recent scandal is, in fact, not an isolated case as the company claimed and suggests that there is a policy on the headscarf at an institutional level.

Rabia Özışık, 32, who displayed a photo exhibition at the Kent Square AVM mall in Bursa, received an invitation from CarrefourSA officials to open an ebru (paper marbling) exhibition in the CarrefourSA store in the same mall.

Özışık told the Yeni Şafak daily on Wednesday that she and CarrefourSA officials had agreed on the terms for the exhibition and had even determined the date. However, she claimed that the program was canceled because of her headscarf.

“They [CarrefourSA officials] told me that they would host a paper marbling exhibition during Ramadan and wanted me to perform marbling. We planned to hold the exhibition on July 21 and on Aug. 4, on two Saturdays. However, two days before the first exhibition, they called and told me that it was not possible to work with me because of my headscarf,” she said in remarks to the daily.

When the story of the Kızılay volunteer appeared in the media, others who faced similar acts of discrimination by CarrefourSA came forward to tell their stories to Yeni Şafak. The public has also shown its reactions to the incidents in various social media platforms for days.

Recep Çelik, who once ran a bakery that was part of the Acıbadem CarrefourSA store, said his wife had worked in the bakery for a while due to a shortage of workers. However, he stated that CarrefourSA officials had exerted pressure on him to not hire his wife, who wears a headscarf. He had to hand the shop over to someone else after many quarrels with officials, he said, in remarks to the same daily.

In the meantime, the Grand Unity Party (BBP) Bursa provincial branch held a rally in front of the CarrefourSA store to protest discrimination against headscarved women. The party also called for a boycott of the company.

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