Woman denied job interview by ING Bank due to headscarf

Zeynep Altug, a finance specialist, was denied a job interview by ING Bank Turkey on the grounds that she wears the Islamic headscarf, according to what Altug has announced on her Twitter account.

“ING Bank Turkey, which invited me to a job interview today, immediately canceled the interview after learning that I wear a headscarf. What century do we live in? Scandal,” she tweeted on Saturday. Altug also wrote that she was directly told that the interview was canceled because of her headscarf.

She was not immediately available to comment to Today's Zaman.

The wearing of headscarves in the public sector is banned in Turkey; however, there is no such ban for the employees of private businesses. However, many headscarved women like Altug are denied jobs in private businesses, which cite concerns about their company image.

The headscarf ban in Turkey is the product of the Feb. 28, 1997 military coup, when the Turkish military forced a coalition government led by a now-defunct conservative party, the Welfare Party (RP), to resign on the grounds that there was rising fundamentalism in the country. The coup introduced a series of bans on pious people, the headscarf ban being the most widespread.

Until 2010, even university students were not allowed to study at universities if they wore headscarves. The ban was lifted by a circular the Higher Education Board (YOK) sent to universities; however, some headscarved students still face problems due to pro-ban universities or professors.

The treatment Altug allegedly received spurred harsh reactions on social media, with many Twitter users accusing the bank of involvement in discrimination against the young woman.

“Is this correct?” one Twitter user, Ali Riza Mete, asked on the bank's Twitter account. “If you don't want headscarved employees, then you clearly don't want headscarved customers,” he wrote.

Another Twitter user, Muhammed Ali Dogan, who is also a customer of ING Bank Turkey, wrote that he would immediately change his bank.

Today's Zaman also contacted ING Bank Turkey on the matter. There was no response from the company.