Turkey’s top court has dealt a blow to the country’s ruling party over its plans for headscarf reform.
The constitutional court has annulled a government plan to allow students to wear Muslim heascarves at universities.
Critics had argued the reform would undermine Turkey’s basic principles of a secular state.
The judgement comes as the ruling AK Party fights off a legal attempt by the opposition to have it closed down for alleged anti-secular activities.
Observers say the survival of the government and President Abdullah Gul, a member of the AK Party, is at stake.
Gul said: “The debate on the way the nation is governed can be heated from time to time. But I think it’s quite normal because we are an open and democratic society. But I believe Turkey will overcome this.”
One student wearing a headscarf outside Istanbul University said: “Even though the law’s not been passed, I think people like us should stay at university. There’s a need for people like us. Narrow minded people shouldn’t study at universities and be successful.”
Another Istanbul University student, who does not wear a headscarf, said: “The headscarf has no place at universities. I’m saying this based on the secular state principle, because it’s used as a political symbol. It’s not a religious freedom. That’s why, as a law student, I don’t want it to be allowed at universities.”
The ruling party denies allegations of Islamist activities, levelled against it by an elite of military, judicial and academic officials.