Merve Safa Kavakci, Ph.D
Prior to serving as Turkish Republic’s Ambassador to Kuala Lumpur, Dr. Kavakci was the Founding Director of The Postcolonial Studies Research Center (PAMER) at Uskudar University (2014-2017). She was a Lecturer of International Relations at George Washington University and Howard University in Washington DC (2004-2014). She was elected to the Turkish Parliament, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in 1999 as the first Muslim woman with hijab. However she was prevented from serving her term. Kavakci’s political party was closed down by the Constitutional Court and her Turkish citizenship was revoked, banning her from politics for a period of five years. She took her case to European Court of Human Rights and won in 2007.
A widely recognized international public figure, Kavakci addressed the British Parliament House of Lords, United Nations Commission on Human Rights, US Congress Helsinki Commission and Interparliamentary Union. She has lectured at myriad of world’s renowned universities.
Kavakci is among Georgetown University’s The World’s Most Influential 500 Muslims (2009). She was awarded with “Appreciation for Social Justice” certificate by New York University (2006). The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty’s Body of Belief exhibition exhibited the headscarf Kavakci wore in the parliament, at the U.S. Congress as a symbol of religious freedom (2005). She was recognized among “Women of Excellence” by National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and George Washington University (2004). She was awarded the Public Service Award in Tribute and in Recognition of efforts for the advancement of human rights and Muslim Women’s empowerment by International Association for Women and Children (2000). She was awarded Service to Humanity Award by Haus Der Kulturellen Aktivitat und Toleranz(1999).
Kavakci holds a Ph.D in political science from Howard University (2007), an MPA from Harvard University (2003) and a BS in Software Engineering from University of Texas at Dallas (1993). Kavakci attended the Medical School of Ankara University however was not permitted to continue due to the headscarf ban (1988). She served as a columnist for Turkish daily Yeni Akit (2004-2017). She is the author of Headscarf Politics in Turkey: A Postcolonial Reading (MacMillan, 2010), and five other books some of which are translated to Arabic and Persian. She is the editor author of International Relations in the Global Village: Changing Interdependencies (Cognella Academic Publishing, 2013). Her most recent book is The Unnamed Coup at the Scarf-less Democarcy-Basortusuz Demokrasi’de Adi Konmamis Darbe (Timas, 2014). A book on her political life The Day Turkey Stood Still was authored by American writer Richard Peres (Ithaca Press, 2013).
Dr. Kavakci is mother to Fatima and Mariam.
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