Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Turkey's Main Parties Agree On Plan To Lift Headscarf Ban At Universities

Both Reuters and the New York Times today report that in Turkey the religiously oriented AK Party of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan has reached an agreement with opposition nationalist MHP Party on language of a constitutional amendment to permit Muslim women attending universities to wear headscarves. The lifting of the headscarf ban applies only to the traditional headscarf that ties under the chin, and not to the wrap-round headscarf that is viewed as a symbol of political Islam. Under the proposal, a woman's face must still remain in view so that she cannot conceal her identity. The headscarf ban continues for teachers and women working in public offices. The Republican People's Party, which reflects the views of the military, remains opposed to lifting the headscarf ban. It has insufficient votes to block the proposal, but may challenge it in court.