Turkish minister sides with teacher under pressure for wearing earing

November 9, 2010

Cuma Toygar - Hurriyet

A male teacher in Manisa, Turkey, is likely to avoid an unwanted reassignment to a village school after the education minister stepped in to resolve a row over his earring.

“Nobody can be victimized over their apparel,” Education Minister Nimet Çubukçu told daily Radikal on Sunday after being encouraged by the newspaper to intervene in the matter.

The ordeal of Cuma Toygar, 48, started when six months ago, he told his fifth-grade students to be tolerant toward differences and that being unusual required courage. When a student challenged him if he was brave enough to be different, Toygar started going to school with an earring – a piece of jewelry that is rarely worn by men outside metropolitan areas.

However, the issue came to a head when Manisa’s governor refused to present him an award upon seeing the earring. Toygar was to be rewarded for selling his car to plant trees in the garden of Necatibey School, where he had worked for 10 years.

Following his refusal to remove the earring, Toygar was reassigned by the governor to another school in Maldan, 45 kilometers from his home, the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review reported on Monday.

Çubukçu, however, halted Toygar’s reassignment and sent two inspectors to Manisa to look into the issue.

“The wrongs committed against me and the pressure on me were observed by the minister thanks to the media,” Toygar said, quoted by the daily.

Toygar said he had suffered a lot over a “one-millimeter-wide earring,” including seeing 66 Turkish Liras docked from his wage every month and being mocked and humiliated by his superiors.

Toygar said he only had two years until his retirement, and people told him not to lose his pension over this issue. He said he felt he had to keep wearing the earring because it was a symbol of his fundamental rights.

“This is not a political or religious symbol,” he said. “I have done what I think is right and won.”

Toygar said he never had any problems with his superiors before the incident and he intended to spend the remaining years in his profession at the same school.

Maldan locals, meanwhile, told the press they did not want a male teacher with an earring to be appointed to their village.

“The physical appearance of teachers is important. It is better for him not to come at all. We do not want him to provide an example to our children with an earring,” Ömer Yıldız, the village headan, said, quoted by Aegean daily Yeni Asır.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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