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2008-09-21
Ankara/Turkey
US report: Headscarf ban still in force in Turkey
An annual report released September 19 by the The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the U.S. Department of State said that the Turkish government generally respected religious freedom in practice.

According to the report's "Turkey" chapter, "the Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and other laws and policies contributed to the generally free practice of religion, but constitutional provisions regarding the integrity and existence of the secular state restrict these rights".

Covering the period between July 1st 2007 and June 30th 2008, the report said, "the Government generally respected religious freedom in practice; however, the Government imposes limitations on Islamic and other religious groups and significant restrictions on Islamic religious expression in government offices and state-run institutions, including universities, for the stated reason of preserving the 'secular state'."

Referring to the constitutional amendments adopted by the Turkish parliament in February 2008 in an attempt to lift the headscarf ban at universities, the report said, "however, on June 5, 2008, the Constitutional Court ruled that amendments intended to permit the wearing of headscarves in universities violated the secular nature of the state and were therefore unconstitutional".

The report also said that Turkish authorities continued their broad ban on wearing Islamic religious headscarves in government offices as well as public schools and the Turkish government continued to oppose "Islamic extremism."

Source: Worldbulletin, Balmumcu /Besiktas-Istanbul/Turkey
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