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Debate on religious headscarves returns to the heart of Turkish politics

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bellowed to thousands of supporters at a rally in the provincial city of Malatya.."What did I propose? We have started the preparation of a constitutional proposal by adding the protection of the family against the impositions of perverted trends, which is another vital issue," Erdogan added to rapturous cheers from the crowd.#Erdogan considers putting Turkey's headscarf reform to referendum's lifting of restrictions a decade ago on religious dress – introduced to protect the Turkish secular state – is one of his most significant achievements, claims Emine Ucak, a journalist who wears a religious headscarf and writes for the news journal Perspective."The headscarf issue in Turkey was implemented within the framework of a law as a ban that prevented many women from participating in the public sphere and receiving education," explains Ucak."That was how it was in the past.

And this lasted for many years, both in the public sphere, in public institutions, and the issue of education. But this ban wasn't only confined to public institutions."This continued in other sectors, in the private sector.

So these women went through this trauma, some still couldn't go back to their professions," added Ucak.Throughout the 1990's and early 2000s, students wearing headscarves protested against a ban on them from attending universities, becoming lawyers or judges, or even a member of parliament.The issue has proved a vote winner for Erdogan in the past.In 2008 Erdogan, then as prime minister, won a landslide in a general election dominated by whether his political ally Abdullah Gul could be president as his wife wore a headscarf.The staunchly pro-secular CHP strongly advocated the ban, holding mass rallies.

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