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Turkish ruling party drops opposition to university headscarf ban

[JURIST] Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) [party website, in Turkish] has decided for the time being to cease its opposition to the country's ban on wearing headscarves in public universities [JURIST report], according to a party spokesman. The announcement made Thursday came a day after Turkey's Constitutional Court [official website, in Turkish] rejected a bid to ban [JURIST reports] the AKP on the grounds that it was not respecting Turkey's strict secular principles. In June, the Constitutional Court rejected AKP-backed amendments to Turkey's constitution [text] designed to ease the ban on headscarves, finding that they, however, were too anti-secularist. AP has more.

The AKP and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan [BBC profile; JURIST report] had proposed the amendments in what they described as an attempt to provide equal access to higher education for women adhering to a stricter interpretation of Islam, but the pro-secular opposition Republican People's Party [party website, in Turkish] appealed [JURIST report] to the Constitutional Court, saying maintenance of the broad ban was necessary to protect the country's separation of religion and state and alleging that the Islamist-based AKP was pushing a conservative religious agenda.

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