Judge postpones trial citing lawyer wearing headscarf

Judge postpones trial citing lawyer wearing headscarf

Lawyer Zübeyde Kamalak is seen at the Ankara 2nd Family Court. (Photo: AA, Mehmet Tosun)

March 28, 2013, Thursday/ 13:01:00

An Ankara judge has postponed a trial citing the presence of a headscarved lawyer at a court session despite a Council of State ruling allowing lawyers to wear the Islamic headscarf on the job.

Lawyer Zübeyde Kamalak, the wife of Felicity Party (SP) Chairman Mustafa Kamalak, attended the hearing on Thursday on behalf of her client in a divorce case at the Ankara 2nd Family Court, but the judge, İlhan Kadıoğlu, ruled to postpone the trial, saying that lawyers cannot attend hearings with their headscarves while actively practicing law, which he said is a public service.

The judge's move came in defiance of a January ruling by the Council of State suspending the application of an article from the code of practice of the Turkish Bar Association (TBB) that bans female lawyers from wearing headscarves while practicing their profession.

Kamalak reminded the judge of the Council of State ruling, but he nevertheless ended the court session, refusing to abide by the decision.

After the session, Kamalak told reporters that she and her client were wronged by the judge and called on the Justice Ministry to launch an investigation concerning the incident given the removal of the ban on the headscarf.

The wearing of the Islamic headscarf has long been a matter of contention in Turkey. A headscarf ban applies to certain public and government offices and locations in Turkey. The ban affects university students as well as those working in the public sector.

The headscarf ban in universities was eased after the Higher Education Board (YÖK) sent a circular to universities in 2010 asking them to allow headscarf-wearing students. Yet there are still some universities and professors who insist on implementing the ban.

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