Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Trying the 92-year-old academic for writing about the history of the headscarf.

The country is, unsurprisingly, Turkey, and the story of the headscarf -- as told by Muazzez Ilmiye Cig -- is sexy enough to insult the people:
Muazzez Ilmiye Cig, ... a 92-year-old academic who specializes in Sumerian culture and history, went on trial on charges that she “insulted the people” and incited hatred in a book last summer in which she wrote that the head scarf was first used in religious rites by women who worked in Sumerian temples to initiate young men in sex, in order to differentiate them from women who worked as priests. Ms. Cig, who has translated about 3,000 stone tablets and published a number of books and papers, faces a prison sentence of up to three years if convicted of all charges.
Here's an article from last February quoting her, as an expert on the Sumerian language, explaining the oldest love poem:
"They did not have sexual taboos in love," she said. "Instead, they believed that only love and passion could bring them fertility, and therefore praised pleasures."

In the agriculture-based Sumerian community, she said, lovemaking between the king and the priestess would have been seen as a way to ensure the fertility of their crops, and therefore the community's welfare, for another year.

Ms. Cig said she worked with Professor Samuel Noah Kramer in 1951, and that he had identified the tablet, among 74,000 others, during years of studies in the Istanbul museum. Their translation of this tablet also shed light on the Song of Solomon in the Old Testament, she said, because some phrases are similar to poems sung during Sumerian weddings and fertility feasts. "This filled the missing link between religious texts of the different periods," she said...

As she held the transcription of the poem, Ms. Cig smiled. "After all these years, very little has changed," she said. "There's still jealousy, unfaithfulness and sexuality in affairs of love as in the times of Sumerians. I just wished whoever has written the poem could see how popular the tablet has now become."
Having written all that, I Googled for an update and see she was acquitted today!
In a trial that lasted less than an hour, Cig rejected the charges saying: "I am a woman of science. ... I never insulted anyone," private NTV television reported.

The court ruled in her favor on grounds that her actions did not constitute a crime....

The trial against Cig was initiated by an Islamic-oriented lawyer...

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