According to an interview in a British newspaper Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is to press ahead with lifting a ban on Islamic headscarves in universities. Allowed in public, but not in within state institutions, the headscarf is a divisive issue in Turkey.
The lifting of the ban may be included in a new constitution currently being drawn up and debated by Erdogan’s governing AK party. In the interview he says the ban is a question of freedom of expression, and that no girl should be refused education because of the clothes she wears.
The current Turkish constitution was written by the military after it took power in 1982, when it imposed the ban. Both Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul’s wives wear the headscarf, and the AK party’s moderate brand of Islamism is viewed with suspicion by Turkey’s secular elite that is determined to maintain a strict separation between church and state.
Critics say allowing the headscarf might open the way to social pressure being put on all young women in to cover up in overwhelmingly Muslim Turkey.