Ankara appoints Turkey’s first headscarved deputy as ambassador to Malaysia

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Merve Kavakçı (R) seen in the Turkish Parliament in May 2, 1999 along with her fellow Virtue Party deputies, including now jailed journalist Nazlı Ilıcak (L).

Former Virtue Party (FP) deputy Merve Safa Kavakçı, whose citizenship was revoked after she attempted to take the parliamentary oath wearing a headscarf in 1999, was appointed Turkey’s envoy to Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.

According to a decree on ambassadors published by the Turkish Foreign Ministry in the Official Gazette on Wednesday, Kavakçı, who is currently an academic at George Washington University in the US, will be Turkish ambassador to Malaysia.

In addition to Kavakçı, the foreign ministry appointed 17 other ambassadors to Turkish missions across the globe.

On May 15, 1999, Kavakçı’s citizenship was revoked after then-President Süleyman Demirel ratified a decree to that effect.

The move to cancel Kavakçı’s Turkish citizenship began after she was found to have acquired US citizenship without informing the authorities.

Kavakçı caused uproar when she wore her headscarf to a swearing-in ceremony in Parliament in defiance of the secular Turkish constitution. At that time, Turkish law banned the wearing of Islamic-style headscarves in public institutions.

She regained her Turkish citizenship after the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) started a process to restore it, and it was granted by a Cabinet decision published in the Official Gazette on July 2.

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