Turkey lifts ban on headscarves in parliament

Nov. 1, 2013 at 4:49 PM

ANKARA, Turkey, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Female lawmakers in Turkey wore headscarves to Parliament for the first time following the end of a long-standing ban.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomed the four women's attendance Thursday to the chamber meeting and thanked all political parties for working together to lift the ban, Today's Zaman reported.

"Everyone contributed to this [process of] normalization. I would like to thank them," Gul said Friday before his departure for Scotland.

The four deputies, Sevde Bayazit Kacar, Gonul Bekin Sahkulubey, Nurcan Dalbudak and Gulay Samanci, all members of the Justice and Development Party, requested the law be changed to allow them to wear headscarves after they performed the hajj to Mecca in October.

"Of course, I see this historic atmosphere as a significant step in Turkey's democratization process. Parliament responded to this with unprecedented maturity," Erdogan said.

Not all lawmakers were happy about the change, France 24 reported.

"In Turkey, undermining the state's secular traditions is tantamount to undermining society," Republican People's Party lawmaker Engin Altay said. "What will happen if a lawmaker wears a burka in Parliament?"

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