We had read and had been told also that Turkey was a secular country, but the predominant religion was Islam. As such we expected and experienced a degree of conservatism in dress and behaviours during our two week visit in 2006. Yet despite this underlying conservatism, we encountered a number of things that surprised us. Imagine if you can our reaction to seeing this poster mounted prominently on a pole in one of Istanbul’s busiest shopping streets, Istiklal Cadesi.
Istanbul is described as the crossroads between the east and the west. It is an amalgam of modern and old. For every young woman in the streets wearing up-to-date western fashion, there is probably an equal number wearing traditional conservative Islamic dress. The modern women are not provocative in their dress, but are as stylish as you would see in Paris or London. This poster therefore seemed to be an aberration and completely out there. Just one block away from this very fashionable street most of the women had their heads covered with scarves and their arms and legs covered in the usual Islamic fashion.