Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday announced the content of a long-awaited democratization package aimed at expanding freedoms for various social groups. Among other things, the package removes restrictions on the wearing of Islamic headscarves in public sector workplaces. The ban, however, will remain in effect for judges, prosecutors and military personnel.
Turkey’s ban on headscarves dates back to the 1980s. After the 1980 coup d’état, a regulation that defined the permissible dress code and appearance of public sector employees included the stipulation that the hair of civil servants must be uncovered. Women who wear a headscarf were effectively denied the right to be employed by the state.
The reform, which has been hailed by many but also criticized for depriving women in certain professions from enjoying the freedom to wear headscarves, is expected be made with an amendment to the regulation that defines the permissible dress code and appearance of public sector employees but it is not known how the government will word the exceptions.