ISTANBUL – Marking a historic move in the secular country, Turkey has allowed female police officers to don hijab, Anadolu Agency reported on Sunday, August 28.
The surprise decision was published in Turkey’s Official Gazette announcing a new rule which will allow policewomen to wear a headscarf under their caps or beret on condition it has the same color as the uniform and without a pattern.
The decision allows students for the first time in the decades to don Islamic headscarves.
The move follows earlier announcement by Police Scotland which declared hijab an optional part of its uniform to encourage more female Muslims to consider policing as a career option.
Similarly in Canada, the government announced just this week that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police would allow its officers to wear hijabs as part of their uniforms, in the hope of boosting the number of female Muslim recruits.
Hijab, an obligatory code of dress, has been banned in public buildings, universities, schools and government buildings in Muslim-majority Turkey since shortly after a 1980 military coup.
Turkey’s secular elite, including army generals, judges and university rectors, staunchly oppose easing the hijab ban.
In 2008, Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AK) passed a constitutional change easing restrictions on hijab at university.
Later in November 2012, Turkey has lifted a decades-long ban on wearing hijab in Islamic schools which came into effect for the first time in the school year 2013-2014.
In September 2013, Turkish then Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, announced the lift of hijab ban in state institutions, except for judges, prosecutors, police officers and army members, as part of an amendment to the law’s fifth article.
A year earlier, a veiled lawmaker has entered the Turkish parliament for the first time in fourteen years, marking the end of ‘hijab ban’ in state institutions.
Female judges and soldiers are still not permitted to wear hijab.