By Sarp Ozer
ANKARA (AA & Agencies): Female members of Turkey’s armed forces will be able to wear headscarves for first time, under a Turkish Defense Ministry policy announced Wednesday.
According to new ministry regulations, female soldiers can wear headscarves underneath their caps or berets so long as they are the same color as their uniform and are without patterns.
According to the new amendment, women military officers and non-commissioned officers in the General Staff and command headquarters and branches will be able to cover their heads with a headscarf under their caps or berets provided it is the same color as the uniforms and does not possess a pattern.
The regulation not only includes regular women military officers and noncommissioned officers but also women military cadets.
The military was the final Turkish institution where women were prohibited from wearing the headscarf, after reforms by the Islamic-rooted government under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that has allowed it to be worn in education, politics and the police.
“The problem with preventing the wearing of the headscarf has now been completely removed in Turkey,” Defense Minister Fikri Isik was quoted as saying by Anadolu.
“Those who wish can perform their duties while wearing the headscarf. The gendarmerie and the police lifted this restriction and now the army has.”
Turkey lifted a ban on the wearing of the Muslim headscarf, known as the hijab, on university campuses in 2010.
It allowed female students to wear the headscarf in state institutions from 2013 and in high schools in 2014.
Female MPs meanwhile began to wear headscarves in parliament from October 2013 when four female AKP lawmakers wore the hijab in a session, in contrast to the scenes in 1999 when a headscarf-wearing MP from the now defunct Virtue Party was heckled out of the chamber.
In 2013, the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party lifted a ban on headscarves in Turkey’s civil service as part of a broader democratization package.
[Photo: Turkish armed forces. Photograph: AA]