Turkish government pledges headscarf freedom in public offices

Turkish government pledges headscarf freedom in public offices

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish government pledges headscarf freedom in public offices

A woman holds a placard reading ‘Headscarf ban is the biggest violence against women’ during a rally. AA photo

The ban on wearing headscarves complies neither with human rights and democratic principles nor with social values, and the government will take the necessary steps for the removal of this ban, Labor Minister Faruk Çelik has said.

Çelik’s remarks came as he received some 12.3 million signatures collected by the Confederation of Public Servants’ Trade Unions (Memur-Sen) as part of a campaign called “The 10-Million-Signature Campaign for a Free Dress Code in Public Areas” from the head of Memur-Sen, Ahmet Gündoğdu.

“The 12.3 million signatures demonstrate the strength of the public demand. I am convinced that this process will lead to enhanced social peace and harmony; and will be a key ingredient for the normalization process,” Çelik said, noting that he would hand over the file containing the signatures to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other officials. Labor minister also stressed, however, that this issue should be handled with democratic maturity.

‘No headscarf ban exists in Constitution’

Gündoğdu noted that the ban on wearing headscarves had grounds neither in the Constitution nor in law.

Lifting the ban for public servants has been rousing debates in the political arena for decades. The general ban on wearing Muslim religious headscarves in government offices and public primary schools continues, although the ban has not been enforced in universities and is frequently flouted in some workplaces.

In late February, Erdoğan stated that there is no clause in the Constitution that bans the headscarf and thus there is no obstacle for headscarf-wearing women to become mayors or lawmakers.

Ban legacy of Feb 28 post-modern coup: PM

“A ban that is not in the Constitution cannot be protected by the Constitution,” Erdoğan said at the time, adding that the issue could be resolved through changes in the regulations.

“There is a place and a time for everything. Holy birth is painful. It has been 10 years since we came to power and some bans that were legacies of Feb. 28 were lifted throughout those years. Some unjust treatments, which prevailed until our government took office, have been eliminated,” the prime minister said, when he was reminded of the fact that many university students with headscarves had to go abroad for their university education during the Feb. 28 process.