İstanbul Bar Association expands scope of scarf ban

August 01, 2012, Wednesday/ 17:29:00/ SUDE ATILGAN

The İstanbul Bar Association, which has implemented an official headscarf ban and refuses to allow headscarf-wearing lawyers in the association, has begun to widen to scope of the ban, which applies almost everywhere they go as a lawyer.

A headscarf-wearing lawyer, P.A. who recently went to the Kadıköy Courthouse in İstanbul, was told by a fellow lawyer to take off her headscarf. When P.A. said it was only a courthouse and that the ban on headscarves for lawyers applies only in courtrooms, a warning sign was posted inside the courthouse stating that headscarf-wearing lawyers should take off their scarves in all offices in courthouses.

The notice stated that a lawyer is not limited to courtrooms, so wearing headscarves in government offices, bar associations, court offices and prosecutor’s offices is tantamount to a disciplinary offense for lawyers.

The lawyers who do not comply with these rules should be referred to the İstanbul Bar Association, reads the warning.

The İstanbul Bar Association has been refusing to allow legal interns and lawyers who choose to wear the headscarf to attend programs, conferences and courses at the association, some of which are obligatory for interns.

A controversial notice posted on the walls of the Intern Education Center at the İstanbul Bar Association, which clearly stated the use of headscarves is banned at the institution, was removed after it elicited a huge public reaction for its discriminatory practice last year. A new notice hung on the walls of the classrooms at the education center fell short of eliminating the association’s headscarf ban. It stated that legal interns should abide by professional principles, just as they would during a trial.

The wearing of headscarves is banned in government offices in Turkey. Until 2010, headscarf-wearing students were not allowed to enter university, but a decision made by the Higher Education Board (YÖK) removed the controversial ban.

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