Headscarf debate reaches Turkish parliament ahead of elections

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Turkey’s ruling party on Friday submitted a consti-tutional amendment to parliament enshrining women’s right to wear headscarves at work and in daily life, reviving a hugely divisive issue in the officially secular state. The highly-politicised decision by President Re-cep Tayyip Erdogan’s AKP party comes six months before the next election — one that promises to be a heated and tight race.

The overwhelmingly Muslim country’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk had sought to settle the issue when he forged a more European-focused Turkey out of the Ottoman Empire’s ashes a century ago.

But headscarves still polarise the nation of 85 million, and a coalition of conservative lawmakers led by Erdogan’s party submitted the constitutional amendment to the parliamentary speaker after col-lecting 336 lawmakers’ signatures.—AFP