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Check This: Headscarves in School

Since 1997, women have been constitutionally banned from wearing headscarves in Turkey's universities. Now, Turkey's two major parties, including Islamic-rooted ruling party, have enough votes to overturn the ban. The secular elite, including judges, university officials, and military leaders, do not want to see the banned reversed. Opinion polls, however, demonstrate that a majority of the population would like to see the ban eased, and some women have actually refused to attend university until it is.

Those in favor of the ban fear a blur between church and state. Allowing the headscarf, in their view, will increase religious pressure on noncovered females and their families to cover up. Yet, the proposed changes would come in the form of a compromise. Only traditional scarves would be allowed, and those covering the neck, or the all-covering burkah would not be allowed. Women in the civil service, including teachers, still would not be allowed to wear any headscarves.

Other nations, such as France, have also banned the headscarf in schools. France forbids students from donning conspicuous religious symbols — including the Muslim headscarf and the Christian crucifix. England, on the other hand allows headscarves, for the sake of civil liberties. Perhaps Turkey is in a unique predicament, as it has historically struggled to remain secular.

Do you think that Turkey's ban on headscarves looks like religious oppression or is it a necessary way of protecting Turkey's secular status?


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