Turkey allows female police officers to wear headscarf

Turkey allows female police officers to wear headscarf
Authorities in Turkey have granted permission for female officers to wear the Islamic headscarf, in the latest European state to adopt the ruling.
2 min read
28 August, 2016
The secular state has had a long battle with the Islamic headscarf [Getty]
Policewomen in Turkey have been granted permission to wear Islamic headscarves for the first time, according to a ruling published in the official gazette on Saturday.

Women serving in the police force "will be able to cover their heads" under their uniformed caps or berets as long as the scarves are "the same colour as the uniform and without pattern", said the ruling published in the official gazette.

Turkey's ruling Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) has fought to remove restrictions on women wearing the headscarf in the secular country.

A victory in 2010 lifted a ban on the wearing of the religious attire – also known as hijab – on university campuses across the country, giving female students permission to wear headscarves in state institutions from 2013 and in high school in 2014.

Rulings published in the official gazette come into force immediately.

Erdogan's critics have long accused the president of eating away at the secular pillars of modern Turkey as set up by its founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk when he established the Turkish republic in 1923.

But pro-government media pointed towards similar newly-established rulings in the Western world.

This week, Scotland's police became the latest force in Britain to allow the hijab as an optional part of the uniform in an effort to encourage more ethnic minority recruits.

London's Metropolitan Police gave Muslim women on duty the option of wearing the hijab in 2001.

A string of other British forces – including in central and northern England where there are large Muslim communities – also allow the headscarf.

"Like many other employers, especially in the public sector, we are working towards ensuring our service is representative of the communities we serve," Police Scotland chief Phil Gormley said in a statement on Tuesday.

Also this week, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police ruled its officers are allowed to wear hijabs as part of their uniforms, the government said.

"The commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police recently approved this addition to the uniform," Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale's spokesman Scott Bardsley told AFP.

"This is intended to better reflect the diversity in our communities and encourage more Muslim women to consider the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as a career option," he said.

Police in Sweden and Norway, as well as some US states, have adopted similar policies.