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Turkish parties ask top court to cancel law allowing Islamic head scarf in universities

Turkish parties ask top court to cancel law allowing Islamic head scarf in universities

Two secular Turkish opposition parties jointly appealed to the Constitutional Court on Wednesday to overturn a law allowing women to wear Islamic head scarves in universities.
The Republican People's Party and Democratic Left Party said the law, already approved by the parliament and the president, violated the secular principles of the Constitution. Most universities have defied an instruction from the higher education board and denied entry to students wearing an Islamic head scarf.
"We have come to the Constitutional Court to fulfill a historic and important mission," said Onder Sav, general secretary of the Republican People's Party. "Lifting the ban on the head scarf would lead to pressures on those who do not cover their hair."
Most proponents of the ban also see the head scarf as an emblem of political Islam and consider any attempt to allow it in schools and government buildings as an attack against Turkey's secular laws. The ban's opponents say the head scarf is a matter of free expression.
It was not clear when the nation's top court, whose past verdicts helped enforce the ban, would make a decision.
Government attempts to lift a ban on head scarves in universities have escalated tensions between the secular opposition and the Islamic-rooted ruling party since its victory in general elections last summer.
Earlier this month, parliament passed two constitutional amendments that the ruling party considers sufficient to abolish the ban. President Abdullah Gul, a pious Muslim, approved the change Friday.
The amendments make it harder to bar anyone from the right to higher education unless they are in clear violation of laws, which the government thinks do not openly forbid Islamic head scarves in universities
The government says the measure is aimed at expanding democracy and freedoms as part of Turkey's EU membership bid.
The wearing of head scarves was first banned in universities shortly after a 1980 military coup carried out by officers who viewed Islamists as a serious threat. But the implementation of that rule varied during the law's early years.


Updated : 2021-04-21 00:04 GMT+08:00