ISTANBUL - Doğan News Agency
A female lawyer has for the first time entered a Turkish court wearing a headscarf yesterday, following the revoking of a regulation banning the headscarf in judicial institutions by the Council of State.
Attorney Şule Dağlı Gökkılıç wore her headscarf during a hearing in a libel suit in the Istanbul district of Kadıköy’s criminal court. As the new regulation had yet to be officially put into force, the judge noted in the court’s records that Gökkılıç was wearing her headscarf on duty.
“Of course I was nervous. The judge asked me: ‘Are you going to enter the hearing like this?’ So I reminded him of the Council of State ruling. He said the notification [on the ruling] had not been sent to him, so he made a record," Gökkılıç said after the hearing.
"There has been a campaign for this for many years. We think the Council of State made the right decision ... In our constitution fundamental rights are restricted by laws. [The headscarf ban] is neither a law nor an ordinance, but they carry out this restrictive practice claiming that it is part of a professional set of rules,” she said, adding that she was counting on wearing her headscarf in the future for her profession.
The judge has sent the record to the Istanbul bar. The bar is entitled to issue a condemnation or a penalty if it is deemed appropriate.
The Council of State made the decision following a case in which a female lawyer saw her application for a new professional ID card rejected because she submitted a photograph with a headscarf.
Until now, the regulations of the Turkish Bar Association have said “lawyers and intern lawyers conduct their duties bareheaded and in attire that accords with the profession,” but the court has now removed the expression “bareheaded” from the article.
The court also said its ruling not only applied to courtrooms, but also all offices related to the judicial process, such as clerk’s offices, bailiff directorates, and prosecutor’s offices.
A ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) proposal in September last year that aimed to enshrine the freedom to wear headscarves in the public sphere as part of a proposed charter article on “the right to enter public service” was not accepted at Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission.