Women of Turkey: Between Islam and Secularism

A Film by Olga Naccache

Lebanon/Turkey | 2006 | 52 minutes | Color | DVD | Subtitled | Order No. 111023


In this thought-provoking documentary, veiled and unveiled women explore relationships between Islam and secularism in present-day Turkey, where millions of women, many of them educated and urban, wear the headscarf or hijab. For her survey, filmmaker Naccache, who was born in Turkey and raised in Lebanon, draws on historical footage and individual visits with Turkish women from across the professional spectrum. Among them are the owner of a gallery devoted to Islamic art; a left-wing journalist whose politics stem from her religious convictions; a young intellectual adhering to a spirituality based on no single religion; and the film critic and columnist for a popular online newspaper. Their wide-ranging interviews, which analyze the background and impact of controversial bans on headscarves in universities and civil service, yield fresh perspectives on Turkish women’s integration of Islamic culture and modern lifestyles, as well as their far-reaching achievements and priorities for the future.


"Women of Turkey: Between Islam and Secularism" uses the issue of the veil as an anchor point in the examination of gender issues, the separation of religion and state, and the relationship of Turkey and the European Union. The subjects of the film provide a perfect example of how gender, nationalism, and religion can intersect in complex ways, ones that transcend stereotypes about Muslim women. The multi-faceted portrait of Istanbul that emerges is fascinating and invaluable in complicating Western discourses about Turkey in particular, and more broadly about Islam.

Dorit Naaman Film Studies, Queens University


  • New York Film Festival
  • Dubai Film Festival
  • Beirut Film Festival
  • Istanbul Film Festival


Olga Naccache

Olga Naccache was born in Mersin, Turkey to a Lebanese father and a Syrian mother. Naccache was raised in Beirut, where the family relocated in 1956. After studying Arabic literature and journalism, she worked as an Assistant Director for various television stations during the Lebanese war. She started directing and producing her own films, including Lebanon: Bits and Pieces, Turkish Woman Unveiled, Tazi Istambooul, Mother Lebanon and Me, in 1994. Souriya, The Challenge is her latest film on the war on Syria. (2016)


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