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Turkey to Lift Headscarf Ban

February 09, 2008 06:13 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
On Feb. 7, the Turkish parliament passed a constitutional amendment allowing female university students to wear Islamic headscarves on public university campuses.

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The coalition of the ruling Islamist-leaning Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the far-right Nationalist Action Party (MHP) pushed the bill through in a landslide 404-92 vote.

The country’s secular establishment views the amendment as an affront to the values established by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish republic.

The day after the measure passed, an estimated 10,000 people took to the streets of Izmir, the country’s third-largest city, to protest the move to lift the ban.

Demonstrators carried signs bearing slogans such as “We women are guarding the secular state” and “Men and women hand in hand against the headscarf.”

The secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP), Turkey’s main opposition party, will try to defeat the bill in the next round of voting, scheduled for Feb. 9.

CHP member Kemal Anadol asked those voting for the amendment, “How will you stop the demands of the covered university graduates when they will ask to work for the state in the future? Good job for you. You are getting closer to your goals step by step.”

Turkish columnist Mustafa Karaalioglu writes that the amendment puts “power and responsibility” back in the hands of the parliament.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed a similar view: “There is only one institution that can speak on behalf of the people … and this is the parliament.”

Headline Link: ‘13-Hour-Long Marathon in Parliament to Say “Yes” to Headscarf’

Background: The signs of political change

Turkey in the 2000s

Reactions: The headscarf debate

Historical Context: Secularism in Turkey

Key Player: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Opinion & Analysis: The headscarf, secularism and the changing role of religion in Turkey

Reference: Turkey

Related Topics: France and the headscarf ban

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