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Turkish lawmakers announce plans to attend parliament in hijab
Thursday October 31, 2013 7:53 PM, Agencies

Reviving a decade old debate, three Turkish lawmakers have announced their plans to attend parliament sessions in hijab, sparking secularists' uproar and calls to protect the country's 'secularism'.

"I have completed my hajj duty and returned to Turkey wearing a headscarf," Konya deputy Gülay Samancı was quoted as saying by Anadolu Agency.

"From now on, I will continue my life in this way. Turkey has taken enormous steps in accepting the people with their differences and respecting their lifestyle and thoughts.

"Thus, I don't believe that there is any problem with people accepting each other for wearing the things they want according to their beliefs or choices."

Samanci, a parliament member of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), was not the only lawmaker to take this decision.

Along with Konya's deputy, Denizli Deputy Nurcan Dalbudak and Kahramanmaraş Deputy Sevde Beyazıt Kaçar announced their plans to attend Parliament wearing the hijab.

Hijab, an obligatory code of dress, has been banned in public buildings, universities, schools and government buildings in Muslim-majority Turkey since shortly after a 1980 military coup.

Turkey's secular elite, including army generals, judges and university rectors, staunchly oppose easing the hijab ban.

In 2008, Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AK) passed a constitutional change easing restrictions on hijab at university.

Later in November 2012, Turkey has lifted a decades-long ban on wearing hijab in Islamic schools which came into effect for the first time in the school year 2013-2014.

Last September, Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced the lift of hijab ban in state institutions, except for judges, prosecutors, police officers and army members, as part of an amendment to the law's fifth article.

The hijab ban end came along with a series of domestic reforms which were revealed among the much-anticipated democratization package.

After lifting hijab ban last September, Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek stated that there is no 'legal ban' of hijab in the parliament bylaws so far.

Previously, Erdogan said that Parliament's internal regulations didn't prohibit hijab in the chamber.

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