The United States and the Taliban raised hopes on Tuesday for a negotiated peace in Afghanistan with commitments to meet this week after 12 years of bloody and costly war between American-led forces and the insurgents. Full Article
Turkey army chief reaffirms headscarf stance
ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey's top general on Wednesday tacitly reiterated the army's opposition to women wearing the Muslim headscarf at university, a day after the religiously oriented government proposed easing a ban on the attire.
"All segments of Turkish society know what the military thinks about the headscarf issue. I do not want to speak on this matter," General Yasar Buyukanit told reporters in his first public comments since the government announced its plans.
The army views itself as the guarantor of Turkey's secular order and has often warned of what it says is creeping Islamisation under Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's religiously oriented government.
Turkish secularists, including the army, see the headscarf as a threat to the secular order.
But it was not immediately clear whether or how the military might try to stop the planned reform. The army failed last year to block the election of ex-Islamist Abdullah Gul as president despite stiff warnings.
Nobody in today's Turkey seriously expects a military coup, though as recently as 1997 the generals, acting with public support, ousted a government it deemed too Islamist.
Financial markets were little changed after Buyukanit's comments, made during a televised meeting with a Macedonian minister visiting Ankara.
Erdogan's ruling centre-right AK Party, which has Islamist roots, and opposition nationalists, who are traditionally seen as close to the army, sent a proposal to parliament on Tuesday aimed at easing the ban on headscarves in universities.
Under the proposal, which will require constitutional amendments, women who tie their headscarf in the traditional Turkish way under the chin would be allowed into university.
But the ban would continue to apply to the increasingly popular wrap-round headscarf, seen as a symbol of political Islam. Other forms of Islamic dress such as the burqa, which conceals the whole body, would also remain banned.
Members of Turkey's secular elite, including the judiciary and university rectors, have attacked the reform proposal as unconstitutional and the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has threatened to block the plan in the courts.
But the military, whose pronouncements on secularism and the role of religion are always keenly noted by financial markets and the media, had until now remained silent.
"There had been a buildup in expectations about how the military would react. Buyukanit felt he had to respond. What he said was confirmation of the military's views on secularism," commentator Fikret Bila told CNN Turk television.
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this