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Turkey closer to ending headscarf ban

Feb. 7, 2008 at 8:29 PM

ANKARA, Turkey, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- A constitutional amendment that would lift the ban on religious headscarves at Turkish universities passed a first vote in Parliament this week by a 4-1 margin.

A second vote is scheduled for Saturday, Voice of America reported.

Thousands of people joined street demonstrations across the country to support the headscarf ban. On Saturday, 100,000 protested the amendment in Ankara and demonstrators also gathered at the tomb of Kemal Ataturk, the father of the secular Turkish state.

Critics of the ban say that the amendment gives religious Muslim women an equal chance for education and jobs.

But others, like Nur Serter, a parliamentary representative for the People's Party, believe that allowing religious headscarves is a step towards becoming a religious state like Iran.

"Headscarf has always been used as the main symbol of the political Islamic movement," she said. "For example, headscarf has been the symbol of the Iranian Islamic revolution, so Turkey is very

sensitive."

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