Turkey urged to end headscarf ban

Oct. 13, 2012 at 2:54 PM
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ANKARA, Turkey, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- Turkish rights groups are calling on the government to do away with what amounts to a ban on Muslim women wearing headscarves.

Neslihan Akbulut, a sociologist who advocates for the freedom to wear headscarves, said women cannot wear them while working in government offices or running for parliament or in a local election, Today's Zaman reported.

The Justice and Development Party, usually known as AKP for its Turkish initials, promised to end the ban on headscarves during the 2003 campaign. Despite winning that election and two more, the AKP has only ended the ban on headscarves on university campuses, and that did not happen until 2010.

One attempt to end the headscarf ban was stymied when supporters of the ban charged the AKP with fomenting "anti-secular activity" and tried to have it closed down.

"If there is a demand from the society, it is either met or the government explains its failure to meet the demand," Akbulut said. "Asking people to wait for a solution is not acceptable."

She said university women get a mixed signal because they can do as they wish while they are students, but have no clear rule once they graduate. Many private employers also ban headscarves in the workplace.

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