Female lawmakers wear headscarves in Turkey’s parliament


People carry a giant Turkish flag as they gather at the mausoleum of Turkey's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk during a ceremony marking the 74th anniversary of his death in Ankara.


Adem Altan

Four female lawmakers in Turkey’s parliament wore Islamic headscarves to the general assembly in Ankara on Thursday to challenge Turkey’s tradition of secular government.

"I will no longer take off my headscarf," Sahkulubey was quoted as saying by Turkey's Milliyet newspaper. "I expect everyone to respect my decision."

Headscarves are not banned in parliament and earlier this month, the government lifted a ban on female civil servants wearing headscarves. However, secularists have not tolerated religious dress in parliament in the past.

The last time a female lawmaker wore a headscarf to parliament was 1999. Merve Kavakci, an MP from the Islamist Virtue Party, was ejected by Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit as half the room shouted at her, "Get out! Get out!" Kavakci was later stripped of her Turkish citizenship after she was found to also have acquired US citizenship.

Today, Nurcan Dalbudak, Sevde Beyazit Kacar, Gulay Samanci and Gonul Bekin Sahkulubey from the Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) were allowed to remain in the chamber, and several colleagues snapped photos.

A headscarf ban remains for judges, prosecutors, police officers and members of the armed forces.