Turkey's PM challenges secular ban on Islamic-style headscarf

Turkey's Islamic-oriented prime minister on Wednesday challenged a ban on women wearing Islamic-style headscarves in universities and public offices, saying there is no need to wait for a constitutional change to remove the ban, the state-run media said. The attempts to lift the ban have alarmed secularists who fear the government is raising the profile of Islam in this Muslim but secular country. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday the ban could be lifted even before a proposed constitutional amendment. "There is no need to wait for the new constitution. Its solution is very easy. It can be solved through consensus over a sentence," the state-run Anatolia news agency quoted Erdogan as saying. Erdogan insists that lifting the headscarf ban is merely a question of individual liberty but the country's secular establishment, including the military, regards it as a political statement aimed at undermining the nation's secular principles.