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Court rejects appeal seeking annulment of scarf freedom at secondary schools

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Turkey’s Council of State has decided to reject an appeal that sought for the annulment of an Education Ministry circular which allowed female students at Turkey’s secondary schools to wear a headscarf.

The 8th chamber of the court made the ruling unanimously on Friday.

The Turkish government announced the removal of a ban on Islamic headscarves at secondary schools and high schools, allowing girls from the fifth grade and upwards to cover their hair in public schools, through a ministry circular in 2014.

Education Minister Nabi Avcı said back then that “beginning with the fifth grade, everyone can practice this,” making it clear that girls as young as 10 years old would be allowed to wear headscarves in schools.

The court’s ruling was made following an appeal filed by Judges’ Union President and lawyer Ömer Faruk Eminağaoğlu in 2014 that sought for the annulment of the circular.

In January, the Council of State’s Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office which announced its opinion on the case, said the circular should be annulled because it violates Convention on the Rights of the Child and other relevant international agreements.

The issue has long been source of much controversy in Turkey, with some opposition figures accusing the government of abusing religion for political motivations.

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