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Turkey Lifts Headscarf Ban Despite Protests

From an approving AFP:

People attend a rally to support the ban on headscarves and protest against the government in Ankara February 9, 2008

Turkish lawmakers lift headscarf ban

by Hande Culpan

ANKARA (AFP) – Turkish lawmakers voted overwhelmingly on Saturday in favour of lifting a ban on Islamic headscarves at universities, defying a mass rally protesting the move as a threat to secularism.

The final vote on the constitutional reform package, tabled by the ruling Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP), received 411 ‘yes’ votes in the 550-seat house, parliament speaker Koksal Toptan said.

The new legislation, which was backed by the opposition Nationalist Action Party, only needed 367 votes to pass.

The package amends the constitution to read that the state will treat everyone equally when it provides services such as university courses and that no one can be barred from education for reasons not clearly laid down by law, an allusion to young women who wear headscarves.

The amendments now need to be approved by President Abdullah Gul, a former AKP member who has yet to veto any law put forward by the government.

The reform has angered secularists — among them the army, the judiciary and academics — who see the headscarf as a symbol of defiance against the strict separation of state and religion, a basic tenet of the mainly Muslim country.

As parliament was voting, tens of thousands of people, waving Turkish flags and pictures of modern Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, gathered in downtown Ankara to voice their strong opposition to the reform and anger at Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

“Turkey is secular and will remain secular,” shouted the protestors, among them many women, including some wearing headscarves.

“What is being done today in parliament is to eliminate the republican regime and replace it with bigotry. They want to destroy the secular democratic republic,” Gokhan Gunaydin, from the organizing committee, told the crowd to loud applause.

A police officer at the rally, which was called by more than 70 trade unions and non-governmental organisations, estimated that the crowd was less than 100,000 people. A similar demonstration drew more than 125,000 people last weekend.

The AKP, largely distrusted by secularists for its roots in a banned Islamist movement, says the headscarf ban — imposed after the 1980 military coup — is a violation of the freedom of conscience and the right to education.

The ban has been implemented at varying degrees over the years, forcing many women to abandon their education and others to hide their headscarves under wigs to attend classes

Goodbye, Turkey.

It was a noble experiment that Mr. Ataturk undertook. But, alas, it would now appear to be doomed.

Is everyone in the Middle East suicidal?

It must be something in the water sand.

By the way, ever notice how our watchdog media counts turnout? Of course they always put their numbers in the mouths of anonymous officials:

A police officer at the rally, which was called by more than 70 trade unions and non-governmental organisations, estimated that the crowd was less than 100,000 people.

Who should we believe? The AFP or our lying eyes?

Of course if this had been a pro Islamic extremist demonstrations, the report would have doubled or trebled their estimate.

But if it is a cause the media opposes, people don’t count quite as much.

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, February 9th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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