Turkey Lifts Head Scarf Ban

Emotional issue symbolic of class struggle
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 9, 2008 1:05 PM CST
Pro-Islamic demonstrators gather in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2008, to protest a ban on head scarves and demanding more freedom to wear a Islamic style head scarf which fully and tightly covers...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Turkey’s parliament today lifted the decade-old ban on wearing Muslim head scarves in college, the New York Times reports, a major salvo in the growing battle between Turkey’s growing devout middle class and entrenched secular elite. Proponents of the ban, who fear women will soon be forced to wear the scarves, will likely appeal to their secular allies on the Constitutional Court.

The head scarf battle is an emotionally charged one—one opposition lawmaker said lifting the ban would “ultimately bring us Hezbollah terror, al-Qaeda terror, and fundamentalism.” At its heart, the issue isn't about scarves. “It’s all about power,” explains a Turkey scholar. “It’s about who gets to decide what Turkey’s image will be. Islam is the lightning rod for all fears.”