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Turkey Allows High School Hijab

ISTANBUL – Turkey has lifted a decades-long ban on wearing hijab in high schools, marking a historic move that is expected to anger the country’s secularists, Anadolu Agency reported on Tuesday, September 23.

The surprise decision was announced on the first school day on Monday by the Turkish deputy PM Bulent Arinc.

Speaking to the press, Arinc said a rule in the dress code saying students had to be “bareheaded” while attending high school had now been abolished.

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The decision allows students for the first time in the recent decades to don Islamic headscarves while attending schools registered at the Turkish National Education Ministry.

The Turkish minister, also the spokesman for the Justice and Development (AK) Party government, stressed that students now can continue their education with their headscarves, adding that the related regulation will be issued within the next two days.

Hijab, an obligatory code of dress, has been banned in public buildings, universities, schools and government buildings in Muslim-majority Turkey since shortly after a 1980 military coup.

Turkey’s secular elite, including army generals, judges and university rectors, staunchly oppose easing the hijab ban.

In 2008, Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AK) passed a constitutional change easing restrictions on hijab at university.

Later in November 2012, Turkey has lifted a decades-long ban on wearing hijab in Islamic schools which came into effect for the first time in the school year 2013-2014.

Last September, Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced the lift of hijab ban in state institutions, except for judges, prosecutors, police officers and army members, as part of an amendment to the law’s fifth article.

Last October, a veiled lawmaker has entered the Turkish parliament for the first time in fourteen years, marking the end of ‘hijab ban’ in state institutions.