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Turkish PM slams court ruling denying headscarf-wearing teacher promotion

[JURIST] Insisting his was a country where freedom prevailed, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan [Prime Ministry website] Saturday expressly condemned a new ruling by Turkey's high administrative court that a teacher should be refused promotion because of her decision to wear a religious headscarf outside of her classes. Religious dress [JURIST news archive] has been a controversial issue in Turkey, with the Islamic-oriented Justice and Development Party [party website in Turkish] government demanding that the ban on women wearing headscarves in schools and other public accommodations be lifted while the courts and the military, harking back to secularist policies [backgrounder] set in the era of state founder Kemal Ataturk [profile], continue to restrict Islamic influence on the nation.

The Council of State [official website] held that teacher Aytac Kilinc was setting a bad example for her students and had violated secular principles rooted in the Turkish constitution [text] which prevents the state from showing a preference for a particular religion. Kilinc plans to appeal the denial of her promotion to the European Court of Human Rights [official website]. In November 2005, the ECHR ruled [press release] that Turkey can ban [JURIST report] the wearing of headscarves in public and private universities in an effort to minimize extremist political movements. AP has more.

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