Erdogan proposes headscarf referendum — RT World News

Türkiye’s secular constitution prohibits certain Islamic clothing in public institutions

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has proposed a referendum on women’s right to wear headscarves in public office, schools and universities. Erdogan, who woos a devout Muslim base, has previously overturned some of Türkiye’s secular laws.

« If you have the courage, come, put this question to a referendum… let the nation make the decision », the president told parliament on Saturday, in remarks to opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu.

Kilicdaroglu had proposed a law guaranteeing women the right to wear a headscarf in public buildings, in a bid to reassure Muslim voters that his secular party would defend their religious rights, AFP reported. Erdogan’s call for a referendum is likely an effort to win support from devout Muslims ahead of next year’s elections.

While Kilicdaroglu once supported banning the headscarf, Erdogan has long positioned himself as a warrior against such secular policies.

Turkey has been a secular state since 1924, although the Islamic headscarf was not officially banned in public institutions until the late 1990s. Although the country’s constitutional court overruled an attempt by the ruling AK party to ‘Erdogan to lift the headscarf ban in 2008, the Turkish President succeeded in ending the restriction in 2013.

While no political party in Turkey is proposing a return to the ban, enshrining the right to wear the headscarf in the constitution would represent a significant step away from the secularism of previous decades.

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