ANKARA – Wearing a hijab, a veiled lawmaker has entered the Turkish parliament for the first time in fourteen years, marking the end of 'hijab ban' in state institutions.
“We do not know how they will react but we are going to enter parliament with our head scarves and continue our work,” Nurcan Dalbudak, Development Party (AKP) lawmaker, told Reuters on Thursday, October 31 before entering the chamber.
“We are going to witness the start of an important era and we will play the leading role, we will be the standard-bearers, this is very important.”
Sevde Beyazıt Kaçar, Gülay Samancı, Nurcan Dalbudak and Gönül Bekin Şahkulubey have all separately announced they will soon come to the General Assembly meetings at Parliament wearing headscarves.
All three are among the female AKP deputies who recently performed the annual hajj.
The lawmakers’ position was immediately condemned by Turkish main opposition party Republican People's Party (CHP) which vowed 'not to allow' hijab in parliament.
“All the AKP is intending to do with this headscarf issue is play the role of the ‘mistreated.’ We will not fall into this trap,” the CHP’s deputy parliamentary group chair Muharrem İnce told reporters, following his party’s closed-door parliamentary group meeting Oct. 30, Hurriyet Daily News reported on Thursady.
“We will not let the AKP play the role of the mistreated while they are the haughty party. We will take Erdoğan’s trump card from his hands.”
İnce said the female deputies’ decision to wear headscarves was "politically motivated," rather than being genuinely based on their religious beliefs.
“[The female] deputies who never covered their heads before are to wear headscarves to find favor in the prime minister’s eyes,” he said.
“They never took the floor at Parliament and never ever voiced women’s problems. It shows they have a special mission. But we will not let the AKP play the role of the mistreated before the local elections.”
Commenting on the growing debates, President Abdullah Gül said there was no legal obstacle against the attendance of veiled lawmakers at Parliament.
He added that the CHP had also made contributions to pave the way for the recent legislative change.
“This issue was once seen as taboo. We should see that they [the CHP] also made a constructive contribution,” Gül said during the Republic Day reception he hosted at the Çankaya Presidential Palace on Oct. 29.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also noted that deputies of all political parties should be respectful over the wearing of the hijab in the Turkish parliament, TRT Haber TV Channel reported on Thursday
According to Erdogan, the legislation does not contain a ban on the wearing of the hijab in parliament.
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.
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