Turkey to lift ban on headscarf, launch Kurdish reforms

Turkey will lift the ban on the wearing of headscarves in public institutions and will introduce education in Kurdish in private schools as part of a series of democratic reforms revealed by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan today, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.

Erdogan revealed the details of the democratization package at a press conference in Ankara.  The prime minister said they would remove a headscarf ban in public institutions, except for judges, prosecutors, police officers and army members, as part of an amendment to the law’s fifth article.

Rights for Turkey’s ethnic minorities were also a big part of the package. Education in different languages and dialects will be permitted in private schools.

The legal obstacle against the names of villages, particularly ones whose appellations were originally non-Turkish, names will be eliminated, he said.

The student oath, which starts with the words “I’m Turkish, right, and hardworking,” will no longer be read in primary schools, he said.

The Prime Minister also paved the way for a change in Turkey’s electoral system.

“We will also increase the penalties from hate crimes from one year to three years to fight against discrimination,” he said, adding that punishments for hate crimes, particularly those committed based on religion, nation or ethnicity, would be aggravated.

Furthermore, there will be punishments for those that prevent religious groups from practicing their faith as part of the new package, he said.

Regulations on rallies and demonstrations will also be eased to increase the freedom of assembly by extending the permitted period of demonstrations until midnight, later than the previous limit of sunset, he said.

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