Turkey's Islamic Government Changes Constitution– Thousands Protest

Tens of thousands of Turks protested the Islamic-rooted government for lifting the headscarf ban at universities today.

Tens of thousands of Turks demonstrate in the capital, Ankara, Turkey, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2008, to protest against Islamic-rooted government as the parliament voted to amend the constitution to lift a decades-old ban on Islamic head scarves at Turkey’s universities, despite fierce opposition from the secular establishment.
(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

People attend a rally to support the ban on headscarves and protest against the government in Ankara February 9, 2008. Turkey’s parliament voted on Saturday to lift a ban on female students wearing the Muslim headscarf in universities, a landmark decision that some Turks say will undermine the foundations of the secular state. At the anti-headscarf rally, the second in Ankara in a week, feelings were running high as protesters sang patriotic songs and waved pictures of Kemal Ataturk, revered founder of the modern secular Turkish republic. (REUTERS/Umit Bektas)

Turkey’s Islamist government voted today to lift the decades-old ban against headscarves on women in universities.
Thousands of secularists took to the streets of Ankara protesting this latest move by the ruling Islamist party.
The New York Times reported:

Turkey’s parliament took a major step toward lifting a ban against women’s head scarves in universities on Saturday, setting the stage for a final showdown with the country’s secular elite over where Islam fits in the building of an open society.

Turkish lawmakers voted overwhelmingly in favor of a measure supported by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to change two articles in Turkey’s Constitution that they say would guarantee every citizen the right to go to college regardless of how they dress. Turkish authorities imposed the ban in the late 1990’s, arguing that the growing numbers of covered women in colleges threatened secularism, one of the founding principles of modern Turkey.

Secular opposition lawmakers voted against the change, with about a fifth of all ballots cast. Large crowds of secular Turks backed them on the streets of Turkey’s capital, Ankara, chanting that secularism, and women’s right to resist being forced to wear head scarves by family members or religious authorities, was under threat and demanding that the government step down.

The top judge in Turkey warned Parliament not to lift the ban yesterday.

Turkey took a step back from secularism today.

Tens of thousands of Turks demonstrate in the capital, Ankara, Turkey, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2008 to protest against the Islamic-rooted government.
(AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

A Turkish man waves a national flag with a poster of Turkey’s founding father Kemal Ataturk as tens of thousands of Turks demonstrate in the capital, Ankara, Turkey, Saturday, Feb. 9, 2008. (AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici)

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