Erdogan vows to put headscarf amendment to referendum if needed
Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday his ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party) would finalize a constitutional amendment to protect women's right to wear headscarves and submit to vote in the parliament, but if it does not pass, they could put it to a referendum.
The Islamic headscarf was once a source of deep discord between the seculars and Muslim devotees in Turkey, but ceased to stir controversy after reforms carried out by the AKP during its 20 years tenure.
However, the secularist CHP (Republican People’s party) revived the issue last month with a proposal to enshrine the right to wear headscarves as it reached out to devout Turks, having long opposed the wearing of headscarves in parliament and public offices.
“We had resolved the headscarf issue in spite of them, but they brought it up once again in the middle of the night. We responded to this with our proposal for a constitutional amendment based on the protection of the family," Erdogan said, while addressing his party’s group in the parliament, referring to a video by the CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu where he vowed to bring the headscarf issue to the parliament.
Erdogan also challenged Kilicdaroglu to put forth candidates wearing headscarves.
"I believe that this proposal will close the headscarf issue forever and will be a litmus paper for the opposition. We will see who is on the side of freedoms and family, and who is on the side of fascism and perversions," Erdogan said, adding that he hoped his constitutional amendment proposal will be implemented with broad consensus.
“But if it does not come to fruition in this way, we are ready to take other steps, including the referendum. We are not afraid of the nation's arbitration. If we do not have the necessary votes in the Parliament, the last word will belong to our nation," Erdogan concluded.