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Turkish ruling party calls verdict on Islamic head scarf undemocratic

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 decision is a direct interference with parliament's authority," Dengir Mir Mehmet Firat, the ruling party's deputy chairman, said after the meeting. "It is a violation of the rule on the separation of powers."
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.
Firat said the decision "was in violation of the Constitution," reflecting a view widely shared by his fellow party members that the court overstepped its power.
Erdogan kept his silence. But Firat said the prime minister would discuss the verdict with his lawmakers in Parliament on Tuesday.
Firat rejected media speculation that the emergency meeting was held to discuss possible early general elections.
Another top party member, Bulent Arinc, described the court decision as "grave" and suggested the court had overstepped its power.
"It gives me goose pimples," said Arinc, a former parliament speaker. "The Constitutional Court has indirectly seized the power of parliament."
Dozens of people, including some women wearing black chadors, protested the court's decision Friday in Ankara. A placard left outside the court building read: "No one can go against God's order to wear head scarves."
Hundreds of people also protested the court ruling in Istanbul and in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir, following Friday prayers.
Turkey's fiercely secular military signaled satisfaction with the court's decision to uphold the head scarf ban, which has been vigorously enforced in public offices and universities since a 1980 military coup.
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.
"It is a question for Turkey and its people," Krisztina Nagy, EU spokeswoman on enlargement, said Friday in Brussels. "The main issue at stake is that basic freedoms are respected and that the decision is taken in line with European standards."


Updated : 2021-04-11 19:17 GMT+08:00