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Turkey Moves to End Headscarf Ban

January 30, 2008 08:20 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Turkey’s parliament has approved a draft constitutional amendment to allow female university students to wear Islamic-style headscarves on campus.

30-Second Summary

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On Jan. 24, the majority parliamentary coalition of the Islamist-leaning Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) agreed on a proposal to redraft the nation’s constitution to allow women to wear Islamic headscarves in public universities.

On Jan. 29, 348 members of the 550-person assembly signed on to the proposal. It is scheduled to go before the country’s Constitutional Court on Jan. 31.

However, the opposition regards the move as antithetical to the secularist principles on which the state was founded in 1923.  

“It is clear that the rejection of the 85-year-long gains of the republic and its basic principles will not bring any good to the country,” Chief State Prosecutor Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya said in a statement.

Still others argue that the move is a further indication that the country’s secular tenets are being slowly chiseled away.

Soner Cagaptay
, the director of the Turkish Research Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said in Newsweek, “Turkey will become a more Islamic society in its foreign-policy outlook and culture … Headscarves, religious education and the rejection of alcohol will become more common.”

Mustafa Akyol, a Turkish newspaper columnist, says that the ban against the headscarf violates social liberties. “Now is the time for freedom for all Turkish citizens, whatever their creed, language and way of life may be,” he writes.

France went through similar debates in 2004, when the government banned all “overtly religious symbols” in public schools, including headscarves, large Christian crosses and Jewish skullcaps.

Headline Links: Turkish parliament approves constitutional amendment

Background: Headscarves and other signs of political change

Turkey in the 2000s

Reactions: ‘Head Scarf Debate Rears Its Head Again in Turkey’

Historical Context: Secularism in Turkey

Opinion & Analysis: The changing role of religion in Turkey

Reference: Turkey

Related Topics: France and the headscarf ban

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