ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Some 125,000 Turks, mostly
women, denounced the government on Saturday over its plans to lift a
decades-old ban on Islamic head scarves at universities in the mainly Muslim
but secular nation.
Many Turks, including the
country’s influential military establishment, see the move as a serious threat
to the country’s traditional separation of church and state. The government has
defended its plan as a reform needed to give its citizens religious liberty and
bring Turkey in line with European Union human rights
«We want to lift all
ridiculous bans in Turkey; we want everyone to freely walk and receive
education, either with their miniskirts or head scarves,» said Egemen
Bagis, a close aide to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is a devout
The Parliament was expected
to approve a series of legal amendments next week allowing female students to
wear head scarves as long as they tie them under the chin, leaving more of
their faces exposed.
But the nuance seemed
unlikely to win over many opponents who regard the head scarves as political statements.
Many secular women fear that allowing head scarves in universities will lead to
their being pressured to cover their bodies as well.