Turkey's top administrative court rejects appeal against lifting of headscarf ban in schools

The Plenary Session of Administrative Law Chambers of the Council of State has upheld a decision by the 8th Chamber that had rejected a request to reinstate the headscarf ban in secondary schools. This decision finalizes a case that began in 2014 when the government lifted a ban on female students wearing the Islamic headscarf in middle and high schools.

Duvar English

Turkey's Council of State has approved a decision given by its 8th Chamber that had rejected a request to bar girls attending secondary schools from wearing headscarves, daily Cumhuriyet reported on Jan. 1.

The cases concerns the announcement of the Turkish Education Ministry back in 2014 that it would allow girls in grades five through 12 to cover their hair while attending schools through a newly issued circular.

A retired judge then took the case to the court, demanding that the ministry's relevant circular be cancelled. The Council of State's 8th Chamber refused retired judge Ömer Faruk Eminağaoğlu's request, saying that there is no constitutional or legal provision that bans headscarf in middle and high schools. Eminağaoğlu this time appealed the chamber's argument, leading the top administrative court to continue its deliberations on the issue.

In a recent ruling, the Plenary Session of Administrative Law Chambers of the Council of State, which holds the final decision, upheld the 8th Chamber's decision, saying: “The decision [of the chamber] is in line with the procedures and law and the claims in the appeal petition is not of the quality to overturn the [chamber's] decision.”

Education has been one of the main battlegrounds between religious conservatives and secular opponents who accuse the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of imposing Islamic values by stealth.

These secularist fears have been fueled in recent years when President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said his goal was to raise a “religious youth” and the AKP, in power since 2002, pushed through a reform of the education system which boosted the role of religious schools.