A constitutional amendment is not necessary to allow women to wear the Muslim headscarf while working in public office, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an has said.

Erdo?an spoke to reporters aboard a plane flying back from Vienna, Austria, where he has been on a visit since Tuesday.

In response to a question on allowing headscarves in courtrooms, Erdo?an called on lawyers to file complaints against judges who create problems for lawyers wearing the headscarf in courtrooms at the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK).

In response to a question whether the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government was planning any constitutional or legal amendments to allow the headscarf in public offices, Erdo?an said: “There is a place for everything. A sacred birth is always painful. Since we came to the government 10 years ago, some bans that remained from the Feb. 28 period have been lifted. [Headscarved women] have finished their degrees. But there were problems in finding employment. Those will also slowly be ironed out. They have started to work in private companies.” Erdo?an said the headscarf ban was not written in the Constitution, but it was only mentioned in a dress-code directive for public employees. He said it could be fixed with a minor legislative change.

He said to ensure headscarf freedoms for public employees, he didn’t think a constitutional amendment will be necessary. “It can be done without coming to that.” He also said currently there are no real obstacles standing in the way of a headscarved woman from serving as a mayor or a deputy.

The prime minister also said it wasn’t likely that there will be new provision regarding religious belief in the constitution. “There might be a general clause about freedoms, but will it be guaranteeing with laws the orders of Allah such as praying or fasting? Everybody is free in their beliefs. Every belief is under the guarantee of the state. This is the approach of the state. This is also part of our program and this is exactly how it is described in the 1982 Constitution. How this works in Anglo-Saxon countries or other Western countries is a different issue. We are at an equal distance from all beliefs and all beliefs are under state guarantee. Be it atheist, Muslim, it does not matter. You can’t discriminate against the other while protecting one. “

He also said the parties in the parliamentary commission drafting the new constitution have only been able to agree on 33 articles and so far they have discussed 101 articles. “There are many other articles that still need to be discussed.” He said his party was eager to complete work on the new constitution as quickly as possible but noted he was of the opinion that the other parties weren’t as keen on a rapid completion.

source: http://www.todayszaman.com