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Turkish female officers allowed to wear headscarves

Turkish female officers allowed to wear headscarvesTurkish government lifted the ban on female army officers in Turkey to wear the Muslim headscarf, according to BBC on Wednesday.

The military is the last Turkish institution to see the ban removed. It has long been seen as the guardian of Turkey's secular constitution.

Turkey has a secular constitution dating from the days of Kemal Ataturk, founder of the modern republic, who did not like women covering their heads.

Wearing headscarves in public institutions was banned in the 1980s.

The issue has been controversial in Turkey for many years.

Secularists regard the headscarf as a symbol of religious conservatism and have accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of pushing an Islamist agenda, converting many public schools into religious ones as part of his pledge to raise "a pious generation".

But the president argues that the ban is an illiberal vestige of the past. Over the past decade the ban has been removed for schools, universities, the civil service and in August for the police.

The conservatives respond that they were long seen as second-class citizens and the headscarf is an expression of individual liberties.

The new rules apply to regular women military officers, non-commissioned officers and female cadets. They will be allowed to wear a headscarf under their caps or berets as long as they are the same colour as their uniforms and are not patterned, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

The changes will come into effect once they are published in the official gazette.
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