New rules on school uniforms in Turkey will now allow young girls to wear headscarves while attending religious vocational schools.
The move comes as a part of a new regulation that will no longer force children in state schools to wear secular school uniforms. Children will be able to wear their own choice of clothes, with mini skirts, tight-fitted clothing and sleeveless shirts strictly prohibited.
Female students will also be prohibited from wearing makeup or bleaching their hair. Male students will not be allowed to grow beards or mustaches or don clothes with political slogans and drawings.
“In our country, dress codes have always come under criticism. It’s time to let people wear what they want, whatever their means permit them to wear,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, speaking at a press conference in Spain on Tuesday.
The new uniform regulations will be put into place for the academic year of 2013-2014. Although the headscarf will still be banned in public and private schools during classes, female vocational school students can wear it.
The loosening of the ban of headscarves and other religious attire in Turkish schools is part of a wider debate over how to reconcile modernity and Muslim tradition in Turkey.
Turkey was founded as a secular republic by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who banned religious headwear after World War I.
In 2007, a bid by Erdogan's ruling AK party to lift the headscarf ban sparked a major crisis that almost led to the party being closed by the constitutional Court for conducting anti-secular activities.