Turkey lifts ban on headscarves at high schools

2014-09-23 12:46

Ankara - The Turkish government announced it was lifting a ban on female students wearing the Islamic headscarf at high schools, in a move denounced by opponents as undermining the basis of the country's secular society.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who co-founded the ruling Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP), has long been accused by opponents of eroding the secular values of the modern Turkish state.

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc, a close Erdogan ally, said that an amendment was made to the dress code regulations for female students to say they will not be forced to keep their heads uncovered.

"I know that some female students were longing for [this amendment] to high school regulations", Arinc told reporters after the cabinet meeting late on Monday.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu welcomed the amendment as an effort for "democratisation".

"This should not only be seen as the lifting of the ban on the wearing of headscarf", Davutoglu told the private NTV television on Monday.

"There has been an effort for freedoms and democratisation in every sphere."

Kamuran Karaca, head of the Egitim-Sen education union, said that the measures would provoke a "trauma" in Turkey.

"Turkish society is heading back to the Middle Ages through the exploitation of religion", he said.

Last year, Turkey lifted a long-standing ban on women wearing the headscarf in state institutions as part of a package of reforms to bolster freedoms and democracy, which drew the ire of secularists who denounced the move as an attempt to Islamise the staunchly secular country.

Women can already wear the Islamic headscarf, known as the hejab in universities. The wives of most AKP ministers wear the hejab, as does Erdogan's wife Emine.

The founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, based the post-Ottoman republic on a strict separation between religion and state.

Critics accuse Erdogan, who last month moved to the post of president after over a decade as prime minister, of seeking to undermine Ataturk's legacy, charges he denies.

  • Knowit All - 2014-09-23 13:02

    What a slap in the face of Mustafa Ataturk. Kiss your dream of EU membership, goodbye.

      Will Homeby - 2014-09-23 15:41

      They were never getting EU membership anyway.

  • Boogey Knights - 2014-09-23 13:58

    The Last bastion on Muslim Secularism has fallen...

  • Ayesha Omar - 2014-09-23 14:01

    why the does the world have a problem with muslims wanting to practise their faith, nuns were scarves no 1 cares but a muslim its world war just cazy

      Boogey Knights - 2014-09-23 14:11

      Beacause Ayesha. In France Muslim women want their ID photo to be taken with their face covered. Not acceptable. Muslims want to govern themselves in western countries under Sharia Law, Not Acceptable. Beacause Muslims are calling for a worldwide Caliphate. Not Acceptable. Practicing your religion of "peace" in a western country while respecting the laws and other religion and cultures of that country is OK but that seems hardly ever happen. Look at London they are protesting in the streets telling westerners to burn in hell. Thats why.

      Raymon McNelly - 2014-09-23 14:22

      Because nuns choose to wear scarves where Sharia forces women to wear scarves.

  • Sean Mitchell - 2014-09-23 16:29

    Big mistake

  • nicolas.kritzinger - 2014-09-23 21:43

    The backlash of Islam extremism is Christian Extremism.

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