Headscarves Issue Debated In Turkey

The Islamic Justice and Development Party of Turkey which obtained 47% of the vote in recent elections and now controls the presidency and government has a commission engaged in the task of writing a new constitution. A major issue is confronting the ban on women wearing headscarves. At present, Turkish women cannot wear headscarves in public buildings(including Parliament), universities an schools. Secularism has always been strong in Turkey since the early part of the twentieth century and central to that belief is not allowing examples of religion in public institutions.

The AKP is acting cautious on this issue since a large sector of public opinion wants to maintain Turkey’s secular traditions. Prime Minister Erdogan will most probably make the final decision on the headscarve issue. There is talk the commission may attempt to curb powers of the Turkish military which is strongly secular, but Erdogan may decide not to issue such a challenge.