CAIRO – Marking another victory for hijab in Turkey, a supreme court has reversed a headscarf ban for female lawyers, granting them the right to register at the Turkey Bar Association (TBB) with a photo wearing hijab.
“These limitations [on rights] cannot contradict the spirit of the Constitution, the secular republic and democratic society, according to the Constitution,” said the court in its jurisdiction, Hurriyet Daily News reported on Monday, November 11.
The issue came to headlines after a veiled female lawyer filled a complaint against being religiously discriminated against while applying at the bar association.
The lawyer was asked to provide a photo without hijab in accordance with the bar bylaws.
Reversing the bar's restrictions, the 8th Chamber of the Council of State has ruled that female lawyers are not required to remove veil for bar registry.
Citing constitutional and international conventions signed in Turkey, the 8th department stated that rights should not be limited in a way that contradicts the 'spirit' of the constitution.
The bar association’s bylaws breach the right to work as well as religious freedoms, the court said in its jurisdiction.
According to the court, the photographs of lawyers on licenses are obligated to show their identity and allow them to be easily recognized.
Female lawyers will be allowed to provide photos for their ID cards wearing hijab that doesn't cover their face, forehead and chin.
Before the Council of State's rule female lawyers were not allowed to enter court with hijab.
Veiled female lawyers were allowed to enter courts for the first time last January, following a decision by the State’s Council, which is the highest judicial authority in Turkey.
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.
Last October, a veiled lawmaker has entered the Turkish parliament for the first time in fourteen years, marking the end of 'hijab ban' in state institutions.
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