- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 31, 2013

Four female lawmakers in Turkey attended a parliamentary session on Thursday wearing headscarves for the first time in 14 years after a ban on the Islamic dress was lifted in September.

Turkish-American lawmaker Merve Kavakci had her Turkish citizenship revoked after she arrived in parliament wearing a headscarf for her swearing-in ceremony in 1999, Agence France-Presse reported.

“I will no longer take off my headscarf,” Gonul Bekin Sahkulubey, one of the four members of parliament, was quoted as saying by Turkey’s Milliyet newspaper. “I expect everyone to respect my decision.”

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) accused the governing party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of undermining the country’s secular traditions, the BBC reported.

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party lifted the decades-old ban on headscarves in the civil service as part of a package of reforms meant to improve democracy, the AFP reported.

The Republic of Turkey has remained a secular state since it was founded in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who viewed headscarves as backward and oppressive. The country is 99.8 percent Muslim, mostly Sunni, according to the CIA’s World Factbook.