Europe

Turkey allows policewomen to wear Muslim headscarf

Rows of policewomen in uniform including baseball caps, at a mass funeral in Ankara for a policeman who died in Turkey's failed coup. 18 July 2016. Image copyright AP
Image caption Female judges and soldiers are still not permitted to wear Muslim headscarves

Turkey has lifted a ban on policewomen wearing the Islamic headscarf.

Female officers will be able to wear a headscarf under their caps or berets, provided it is plain and is the same colour as the uniform.

Headscarf bans on university campuses and state institutions - except for the judiciary, military and police - have also been lifted in recent years.

The garment has been controversial in Turkey for years. Secularists regard it as a symbol of religious conservatism.

Since the 1920s, Turkey has had a secular constitution with no state religion.

The opposition have accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) of trying to reinterpret secularism.

However, public debate has also evolved to accept the hijab as an expression of individual liberties, correspondents say.

No strong opposition has been voiced against this latest move.

President Erdogan has long embraced Turks' right to express their religious beliefs openly, but he says he is committed to secularism.

In 2010, the country's universities abandoned an official ban on Muslim headscarves.

Three years later, women were allowed to wear headscarves in state institutions - with the exception of the judiciary, military and police. That year, four MPs wore headscarves in parliament.

Most people in Turkey are Sunni Muslims.

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