Turkey permits female police officers to wear headscarves
ANKARAFemale police officers in Turkey will now be able to wear a headscarf as part of their uniforms, according to a new regulation published in the Official Gazette on Aug. 27, expanding the scope of previous rulings on the much-debated issue since 2013.
According to the new amendment issued by the Interior Ministry, female police officers in the national police force will be able to cover their heads with a headscarf under their cap or beret, provided it is the same color as the uniform and without a pattern.
A deputy from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) criticized the new regulation, claiming it would harm the principle of impartiality in the police.
CHP Deputy Chair Veli Ağbaba said bringing the religious and ethnic identities of officials who provide security and justice to the fore would only increase division within society.
In September 2013, the ruling Justice and the Development Party (AKP) under the then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan lifted a ban on the headscarf in the civil service, fulfilling a long-time promise. However, security service members, judges, prosecutors and members of the Turkish Armed Forces were still excluded from the regulation at the time.
The regulation also allowed female students to wear the garment in state institutions from 2013 and in high school one year later.
The government had previously lifted a ban on the wearing of headscarves on university campuses.
The lifting of the headscarf ban for public servants had been debating in the political arena for decades, and in late 2013 headscarved female lawmakers took the floor at a plenary session of the parliament for the first time in 14 years. The last time it happened in May 1999, Merve Kavakçı, elected as an Istanbul deputy for the now defunct Virtue Party, was unable to take her oath in the swearing-in ceremony after being heckled by fellow MPs.
A number of countries in the world have various implementations for female police officers to wear a headscarf on duty.
Female police officers in the U.S., Britain and Canada are allowed to wear headscarves while France and Germany have no such implementation.
Most recently, the Canadian government said on Aug. 24 that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police would allow its officers to wear headscarves as part of their uniforms.
In early August, police in Scotland also announced that the hijab would become an optional part of its uniform to encourage more female Muslims to consider policing as a career option.
Muslim female police officers in London have been allowed to wear headscarves for the past decade.
A commission of the Norwegian government had also requested an amendment enabling female police officers to wear headscarves in 2013 but faced disapproval from the cabinet of the time.