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Turkey: Headscarf Decision Published

(Oct. 27, 2008) On October 21, 2008, Turkey's Constitutional Court announced the reasoned decision of its ruling issued on June 5, 2008, that reversed recent parliamentary legislation that would have allowed Islamic headscarves to be worn on university campuses. The decision was published in the country's OFFICIAL GAZETTE [Resmî Gazete] on October 22, 2008 (No. 27032). The Court had banned the headscarves from campuses in 1989, ruling that the scarf was against Turkey's secular structure and a potential threat to societal peace. (Top Court Announces Reasoned Decision on Scarf, TODAY'S ZAMAN, Oct. 22, 2008, available at
.) In the June ruling, the court reportedly reiterated that the amendments violated the principle of secularism and also stated that they “made features of the Republic nonfunctional” (Headscarf Against Principle of Secularism, TIMETURK, Oct. 22, 2008, available at

On February 9, 2008, the Parliament had adopted constitutional amendments – to article 10, on equality before the law, and to article 42, on the right and duty of training and education – to lift the headscarf ban. The President of Turkey, Abdullah Gül, approved the changes on February 22. However, the main opposition parties filed a lawsuit with the Constitutional Court few days later, seeking cancellation or nullification of the amendments as well as stoppage of their implementation until the case was decided. (TODAY'S ZAMAN, supra; Constitutional Court Decision (Anayasa Mahkemesi Kararı No. 2008/116 [Constitutional Court Decision, in Turkish], RESMI GAZETE'DE YAYIMLANAN YENI KARARLAR (22.10.2008), Republic of Turkey Constitutional Court website,
(last visited Oct. 23, 2008); see also Turkey: Constitutional Court Ruling Upholds Headscarf Ban, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH, June 7, 2008, available at