Turkey’s ruling AK party has come to an agreement with a nationalist party on lifting the ban on women’s Islamic headscarves in the country’s universities. The move will doubtless upset Turkey’s secular elite, who see the ban as a key element separating religion from the state.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan – whose wife and daughters wear the headscarf – denies claims by secularists that his AK party – which has its roots in Islam – is trying to boost the role of religion in the staunchly secular nation. A statement said: “The issue of the headscarf was evaluated in terms of rights and freedoms, and the technical work on lifting the ban is continuing.”
The ruling party needs parliamentary backing from the nationalists of the MHP to reform two clauses in the constitution, one which says everyone in Turkey is equal regardless of language, race, color, sex or religion, and another which says no-one should be deprived the right to an education. Many women in Turkey decide not to go to university because they want to keep their heads covered, and opinion polls show strong public support for the ban to be lifted.