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Gul Intisar Saatcioglu just before her recent arrest

Huda Kaya was a well-known Islamic journalist in Turkey. She used to work for the ‘Selam’ newspaper until it was shut down by the Turkish government in 2000. Both Huda and her family received huge publicity after attending a demonstration against the “hijab ban”, in the city of Malatya in October 1998. The demonstration took place to protest against the banning of Muslim female students from Turkish universities for their adherence to their Islamic dress code. For merely attending this demonstration, the prosecution demanded that Huda and her daughters receive the death penalty.

A few days after the demonstration the police arrested Huda Kaya and her daughters Nurcihan, Nurulhak and Intisar Saatcioglu in their home and placed them in prison. They were then held in prison for 7 months for “attempting to overturn the constitutional system of Turkey by gun force”. The “evidence” used to convict them was at best “flimsy”. It consisted of their presence at a peaceful demonstration, an article written by Huda Kaya, and the fact that she had certain articles and books in her possession. However, the Malatya State Security Court concluded that the case was outside its jurisdiction and sent the case back to the public prosecutor. The sisters were then brought before another court and charged with a different offense: “violating the act of gathering and demonstrating”. They were found guilty. Intisar was sentenced for 3 years 10 months in prison, Nurulhak was sentenced to 2 years 6 months and Nurcihan was sentenced to 1 year 8 months. Although, the Saatcioglu sisters had already been held in prison for 7 months, their sentence was not reduced in any way.

Now, having been released from prison, the sisters have once again found themselves under arrest in Istanbul. They face the same institutionalised discrimination faced by their mother, Huda, and all Turkish women who choose to wear the hijab. Huda herself served 3 years in prison for the same reason as her daughters.

In a press release regarding her daughters’ imprisonment on 4th October 2003, Huda said the following:

“The president of Malatya University and the Police provoked that demonstration. As a matter of fact the president of the university was a former army general and his first action after his appointment was the hijab-ban. My daughters have been jailed due to their freedom claim. The judge who sentenced my daughters meant exactly that. During the final hearing he repeated what one of my daughter prayed for in the demonstration: ‘for a free country, for a free schools, for a free life, help us O my Lord’. Then he announced the sentence by saying ‘inciting people to freedom’.”

“My other daughter Intisar attended a local radio program that was about the hijab-ban and recited a [Qur’anic] verse related to the issue. Due to this recitation she and the producer of the program were sentenced to two and half years according to “TCK article 312”. All these things are tragic-comic now. I just visited my daughters in order to give them a Quran and some others books but they wouldn’t allow it. They did not let me give the Quran and the other books to my daughters.”

Intisar was accompanied by her mother Huda and her brother Mujaheed during the imprisoning process at the Fatih Courthouse where she said while she put her Palestine scarf over her shoulders:

“they can jail us, they can hand-cuff our wrists, but they can never make our hearts surrender.”

And her mother said:

“I am proud of the fact that three of my daughters have been imprisoned for the sake of Allah.”

After the process she was sent to the Bakirkoy Women and Childrens Prison. Necip Kibar, one of Intisar’s lawyers, said that the people who organise demonstrations in order to ask the army to overthrow the government due to its pro-Islamic reforms are walking around freely whereas the people who seek freedom are jailed. This is completely illegal”. *

In the face of all this injustice, Huda remains defiant:

“The history of humankind has taught us that those who want justice and virtue have to pay the price somehow in order to get it; all the prophets and the sincere people have paid this price. Now my family and me are paying this price, for sure we are followers of their path.”

She urged people around the world to send letters of support to her daughters:

“A letter is the most important expectation in prison. If the people whose hearts are with us send letters to my daughters, I will be very grateful.”



The Address of the prison:

Bandirma M tipi Kapali Cezaevi A2 Bayablar Kogusu, Turkey

In addition, letters can be sent to all the addresses below.

Mrs Mary Robinson

UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Foreign & Commonwealth Office
OHCHR-UNOG King Charles Street
8-14 Avenue de la Paix London
1211 Geneva 10 SW1A 2AH
Tel: 00 41 917 9000 Tel: 020 7270 1500
Fax: 00 41 22 917 9012/9006/9005


Mr Bulent Arinc
Minister of National Assembly
Turkiye Buyuk Millet Meclisi Baskanligi
Ankara, Turkey


Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Office of the Prime Minister
06573 Ankara, Turkey
Fax: +90 312 417 0476
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister


Mr Cemil Cicek
Minister of Justice
Adalet Bakanligi
06659 Ankara, Turkey
Email: ,
Fax: +90 312 417 3954 or 418 5667
Salutation: Dear Minister


National Assembly of the Commission of Human Rights AffairsTürkiye Büyük Millet
Meclisi Insan Haklarini Inceleme Komisyonu,
Bakanliklar, 06543 Ankara
Fax: (0.312) 420 53 94


* On 25th October 2003 a group of people who call themselves “the Federation of the Followers of Ataturk`s Thoughts” held a rally in Ankara in order to undermine the government’s new reform bill pertaining to the Islamic High Schools and Universities. The new bill would allow the Islamic High School students to enter university and would reduce the power of the “Institution of High Education” which is in charge and mere authority of the Universities all over the country. The institution has been vigorously applying the hejab ban since 1998 in the universities in the face of huge public opposition.

The reason the government wants to reduce the power of this institution is to abrogate the current hejab ban at the universities. Therefore, the members of the institution who have no will to leave this power, by the overt support of Turkish army organized this demonstration against the government. During the demonstration people chanted in favour of a coup and carried pro-coup banners. As a result of this rally the government was forced to freeze the bill.

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