Turkish ruling party calls verdict on Islamic head scarf undemocratic

Turkey's ruling Islamic-oriented party accused the country's top court of seizing parliament's power Friday by rebuffing a government attempt to lift a ban on wearing Muslim head scarves in universities. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan chaired a six-hour emergency meeting after the Constitutional Court threw out an attempt to remove the ban a day earlier, saying it would violate Turkey's secular principles. The court's ruling did not bode well for Erdogan's party, which faces closure in a separate case on charges of becoming "the focal point of anti-secular activities." The government had campaigned for re-election last year on a promise to lift the head scarf ban on grounds of religious and personal freedom. Upon victory Erdogan passed constitutional amendments to lift the ban. But the court's decision, which is final, threw a heavy legal barrier before any future attempts to lift the ban. Many see the head scarf as an emblem of political Islam, and consider any attempt to allow it in schools as an attack on modern Turkey's secular laws. Some also argue that lifting the ban would create pressure on all female students to cover themselves. Most of Turkey's 70 million people are Muslim. The European Union, which Turkey is trying to join, said the ban was a domestic Turkish issue.