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Turkey’s top court rules against headscarf ban

Turkey's Constitutional Court says university student's right of education, freedom of religion was violated with ban.

Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled that a university student’s right of education and freedom of religion was violated with the headscarf ban.

According to the decision published on the official gazette on Tuesday, Sara Akgul, who was a student at Istanbul’s Bogazici University, received a scholarship from the Education Ministry between the years 2000 and 2005.

However, the school expelled Akgul in her fourth year on the grounds that she did not renew her registration. The reality was, she was not allowed to attend lectures or tests due to her headscarf.

After being granted a student amnesty in 2009, Akgul returned to her university and graduated in 2012. However, that year the Education Ministry proceeded for Akgul to return the scholarship they had granted her.

In 2014, Akgul made an individual application to the Constitutional Court after exhaustion from years of seeking other judicial remedies.

The court unanimously ruled that the right of education and freedom of religion was violated, a new case should be heard to remove the violations and its results, and the applicant be paid a sum of 20,000 Turkish liras (around $3,700) for non-pecuniary damages.

The headscarf ban in Turkey started to be implemented in the 1980s, but became stricter after 1997.

It was gradually lifted for the students in universities after 2010, while the ban for public employees was also lifted in 2013.

The issue of headscarf ban held an important place in public and political debates during the 1990s and 2000s in Turkey.

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