Turkey approves headscarf amnesty

Turkey's parliament has passed a controversial law for the second time, pardoning tens of thousands of women who were expelled from universities for reasons including the wearing of the Islamic headscarf.

    The hijab is banned in the civil service, schools and universities

    The law, which amnesties students expelled since 2000, was already vetoed once by Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer in late February.

    Sezer indicated that any such amnesty would have to have the support of a three-fifths majority in parliament, a result achieved on Tuesday with 349 in favour out of 550 votes.

    The bill was drawn up by the ruling Justice and Development
    Party (AKP) of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which has roots in a now banned Islamic movement.

    Critics have blasted the law as a "populist" political tactic
    aimed at women expelled for wearing headscarves, or hijab, which are banned in the civil service, schools and universities.

    A total of 240,000 students could take advantage of the law.

    Headscarves are regarded by the establishment, including the
    Turkish army, as a statement of opposition to the overwhelmingly Muslim nation's strictly secular order.

    SOURCE: AFP


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