Turkish academics: Lifting ban on Islamic head scarf a danger to secularism

Dozens of university deans on Friday warned the Islamic-rooted government and a conservative opposition party against lifting a decades-old ban on Islamic head scarves in universities, saying it would pose a serious threat to the country's secular traditions. Deans of several state and private universities gathered in Ankara as a parliamentary commission began debating the proposed measure days after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party struck a deal with the Nationalist Action Party to allow women wearing head scarves on campuses. Lawmakers from the secular Republican People's Party opposed the measure in the commission meeting, but they lack seats to prevent the measure from being approved on the floor. A vote could come as early as next week. "Turkey is secular and will remain secular," shouted some deans at the end of their meeting. Thousands of secularists are expected to march in Ankara against the measure on Saturday.