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Headscarf causes row in Turkey

ANKARA, Turkey, Oct. 30 (UPI) -- Turkish President Abdullah Gul says his wife's wearing of a headscarf doesn't have any political significance.

Hayrunnisa Gul wore a headscarf to Republic Day celebrations in Ankara, but the occasion was notable in the absence of Turkish military leaders and members of the opposition Republican People's Party, the BBC reported.

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Military officials held a separate celebration just prior to the main event. But opposition party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu said he didn't boycott the event because Turkey's first lady wore a headscarf.

"I am going to celebrate it among the people," Kilicdaroglu said, but added, "we are being unfair to the first lady. It is wrong to suggest that we are not going there because she wears a headscarf. Her choice of dress is her concern, not ours."

The fact that Gul's wife wears a headscarf initially blocked his bid for the presidency three years ago, and his Justice and Development Party narrowly avoided being banned by the Constitutional Court, the BBC said.

Secular Turks fear lifting the ban on headscarves could be the start of a creeping Islamization of Turkish society, but Gul's government has dismissed such concerns as groundless.

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