ANKARA: Four female lawmakers from Turkey’s Islamic-rooted government attended a parliament session on Thursday wearing headscarves, for the first time in 14 years.
In 1999, Turkish American lawmaker Merve Kavakci arrived in parliament wearing a headscarf for her swearing-in ceremony. She was booed out of the house and then had her Turkish citizenship revoked.
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lifted on September 30 a decades-old ban on headscarves in the civil service as part of a package of reforms meant to improve democracy and freedoms.
The measure was hailed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose wife wears a headscarf, as a “step towards normalisation”.
But his opponents have branded it an election manoeuvre as the country braces for an election cycle beginning with municipal polls in March next year.
The headscarf is a sensitive symbol in Turkey as it is viewed by secularists a sign of political Islam in stark contrast to the republic’s strongly secular traditions.