Turkey to lift ban on Islamic head scarf in universities

"No one can be barred from her right to higher education because of covering her head," planned modification to higher education code.

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January 29, 2008 02:15
1 minute read.
Turkey to lift ban on Islamic head scarf in universities

Muslim women 298.88. (photo credit: AP [file])

Turkey's ruling party agreed with an opposition party on Monday to lift a decades-old ban on Islamic head scarf in universities of the mainly Muslim but secular nation. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling party and the Nationalist Action Party said in a joint statement that the two parties agreed to make changes in the constitution and the Higher Education Law to allow female students wearing head scarves into universities. A possible change in the Constitution would need a two-thirds majority in the 550-seat assembly. The two parties have more than enough legislators for a constitutional change. "No one can be barred from her right to higher education because of covering her head," is part of the modification to the higher education code that the parties will propose, the statement said. Wearing of the Islamic outfit in universities was first banned shortly after a military coup in 1980 but implementation of the ban has varied over the years. Erdogan, who is a devout Muslim, vowed to end the ban during his election campaign last summer. He scored a resounding victory against the secularist opposition. The staunchly secularist Republican People's Party has repeatedly said lifting the ban would harm the nation's secular traditions. The Republican's deputy chair, Onur Oymen, citing an earlier decision by the Constitutional Court on the ban, said the constitutional amendments planned by the ruling and nationalist parties would not be enough to allow scarf-clad students into universities.


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