Turkey lifts ban on headscarf for female army officers

BBC – A ban on female army officers in Turkey wearing the Muslim headscarf has been lifted by the government.

The military is the last Turkish institution to see the ban removed. It has long been seen as the guardian of Turkey’s secular constitution.

Wearing headscarves in public institutions was banned in the 1980s.

But Turkey’s Islamist-leaning President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, argues that the ban is an illiberal vestige of the past.

The issue has been controversial in Turkey for many years.

Secularists regard the headscarf as a symbol of religious conservatism and have accused President Erdogan of pushing an Islamist agenda, converting many public schools into religious ones as part of his pledge to raise “a pious generation”.
Over the past decade the ban has been removed for schools, universities, the civil service and in August for the police.

The BBC’s Mark Lowen, in Istanbul, says the secular side of Turkey now feels largely ostracised, accusing Mr Erdogan of governing just for his conservative, religious support base.

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