06/05/2008, 00.00
TURKEY
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Abolition of ban on Islamic headscarf under review by constitutional court

The question has captivated public opinion, and the possibility of wearing the headscarf in state universities, promoted by the party of prime minister Erdogan, is also among the "proofs" of the attempt to Islamise the country, according to the accusation made against the AKP by the prosecutor general of the republic.

Ankara (AsiaNews) - The norm that abolished the ban on wearing the Islamic headscarf in state universities came under the scrutiny of the Turkish constitutional court today.  The highest authority for safeguarding the fundamental law is discussing the appeal presented by the leading opposition party, the CHP, and by the DSP against the constitutional modification made by the majority party, the moderate Islamic AKP, with the support of the nationalists of the MKP.

The ban on wearing symbols of religious affiliation in public buildings (including schools) goes back to the secular constitution of the "father of the country", Kemal Ataturk.  In February, the parliament approved a norm on the "right to study" that does not directly mention the headscarf or the dress of female students, but affirms that "no one can be deprived of the exercise of his right to a high level education for reasons not specified by the law.  The restrictions of this right must be regulated by the law".  Behind the critical terminology is the abolition of the ban.

The great importance of the decision on the question of the headscarf comes from the fact that this measure, which modifies the constitution, is also one of the "proofs" of the accusation presented last March 14 to the constitutional court by Yargitay, the prosecutor general of the country, denouncing the AKP, the party of prime minister Erdogan and president Gul, as unconstitutional, in that it is charged with working for the Islamisation of the country.  The court agreed to examine the question.

As for the decision of the court, the Turkish press is discussing three possible solutions.  In the first, the tribunal would follow the recommendations of the rapporteur, according to whom the court could examine procedural propriety but not rule on the question itself.  In that case, the appeal would be rejected.  The second hypothesis affirms, however, that article 2 of the constitution describing the characteristics of the state includes secularism, and because the ban on the headscarf has been abolished by modifying the constitution, this allows the tribunal to rule on the question.  The court, finally, could reject the request to abolish the new norm, but at the same time affirm that it does not allow wearing the headscarf.

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