Turkey: Turkey ends headscarf ban in universities

Amana Media Initiative
Turkish Muslim women who wear headscarves will have access to Turkish [state] universities after parliamentarians voted to overturn a decade-long ban last week.
But the decision has sparked debate about the role of Islam in a strictly secular state.
Turkish parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of a constitutional amendment granting all people equal treatment from state universities, BBC News reported. The vote will open the way for female university students once more to wear Islamic headscarves.

A ban had been in place since 1997, brought in following pressure from Turkey's secular military. Some claimed the ban prevented many women in Muslim-majority Turkey from accessing higher education.

Under the new rules, women will be able to wear traditional headscarves, tied under the chin, BBC News reported. Headscarves covering the neck will not be allowed, nor will all-covering burqas.

Critics of the new law say it will religion to influence a strictly secular state.

"We say it will damage secularity," Ural Akbulut, rector of the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, told the BBC. "Once you do that - we believe you damage democracy."

But many Muslim women have welcomed the move, saying their dress is only a reflection of their personal beliefs.

By: Amana Staff

11 February 2008