Turkish Court Annuls Hijab Ruling

A law allowing women to wear the headscarf at university was overturned by Turkey’s constitutional court yesterday, a decision that threatens the ruling party with closure for allegedly promoting Islam.

erdogan and wife

The powerful 11-member court, the stronghold of secularists, voted 9-2 to reverse changes made this year relaxing restrictions on the wearing of the headscarf.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Prime Minister – whose headscarf-wearing daughters study in the US, where no such restriction exists – had maintained that prohibiting the scarf in higher education was an infringement of women’s rights. But the court said that the changes required to allow the scarf to be worn infringed the secularist principles of the constitution.

In February Turkish MPs voted to amend the constitution to lift curbs on the headscarf in universities by 411 votes to 103. President Abdullah Gül, who helped to found the ruling AK party, approved this two weeks later. Yesterday’s decision has been heralded as a precursor to another case being heard in the same court regarding Mr Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AK). The headscarf vote in parliament is a mainstay of the case against AK, which a top prosecutor wants banned for pursuing an alleged Islamist agenda since it came to office in 2002. He also wants to exclude 71 party members, including Mr Erdogan, from politics for five years. A ruling is expected soon.

The Constitutional Court verdict issued Thursday says amendments that were passed by Parliament in February ran counter to constitutional provisions which say Turkey is a secular republic and that this principle is unalterable, a court statement said.

Secularists claim the move would undermine the secular state.

The headscarf reform plays a central role in a separate court case that seeks to shut down the AK Party for anti-secular activities, and ban 71 members, including the prime minister and the president, from belonging to a political party for five years.

Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek was reported by broadcaster CNN Turk as saying he would comment on the matter once he had read the court’s ruling.

“We must see the justification for the decision,” Cicek, who is also government spokesman, was reported as saying.

Lifting the headscarf ban was one of the most significant moves on religious issues in predominantly Muslim but secular Turkey since a military coup in 1980 that led to a crackdown on individual rights.

Press TV

1 Comment

  1. Prof. Dr. Silva said,

    June 12, 2008 at 9:59 am

    This ruling is short of nothing, but idiocy! Confusing the separation of State and Religion with democratic rights of individuals be it women or men to wear scarfs or beards is a display of the highest level of partisan, vindictive and destructive politics. How legally staffed is the Turkich Constitutional Court, and how has it come to this myopic uninformed view of democracy?

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