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Turkish Constitutional Court publishes decision on headscarf ban

[JURIST] The Constitutional Court of Turkey [official website, in Turkish] on Wednesday published its decision [text, in Turkish] striking down recent amendments to the Turkish Constitution [text; materials] to allow the wearing of headscarves in universities. Explaining the reasoning for its ruling [JURIST report] in June, the court held that lifting the ban "indirectly changes and makes nonfunctional the basic features of the republic." In the decision, as translated and quoted by the newspaper Hurriyet, the court wrote:

It is decided that the amendment of Article 10 and 42 of the constitution implicitly violates the secularism principle at its essence as it would limit other people's rights and damage the public order by taking previous verdicts of the Turkish Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights into consideration
In response to the decision, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) [party website] formed a commission to investigate the court's reasoning. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested [Reuters report] during a news conference Thursday that the Constitutional Court's powers should be limited because it had overreached its authority. Hurriyet has more.

The amendments easing the ban were approved by parliament and signed [JURIST reports] by Turkish President Abdullah Gul in February. Later that month, the opposition Republican People's Party [party website, in Turkish] appealed to the Constitutional Court. While the AKP supported the amendments as helping to ensure equal access to higher education [JURIST report] and to ease Turkey's transition [JURIST report] into the European Union, secularists denounced them as violating separation of state and religion. In November 2005, the European Union Court of Human Rights upheld [JURIST report] Turkey's ability to ban headscarves in public and private universities. Throughout Europe, banning religious dress [JURIST news archive] such as headscarves has led to protests and rioting, but European lawmakers have continued the trend as necessary to upholding secular values.


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