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Turkish Lawmakers Set to Vote on Headscarf Ban  


Turkey's parliament is expected to vote Wednesday on a constitutional amendment to lift a decades-old ban on women wearing Islamic head scarves at Turkey's universities.

Lawmakers will hold a final vote on the measure on Saturday.

Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party and the right-wing Nationalist Movement Party submitted a proposal to the legislature last week to lift the ban.

The two parties hold enough votes to easily approve the measure. But some lawmakers are likely to challenge the proposal, which they say violates Turkey's secular traditions.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of secular Turks rallied against the government plan to lift the headscarf ban.

Turkey's President Abdullah Gul backs the measure. He says universities should be open to all beliefs and views.

The proposed amendment would allow female students to wear head scarves as long as they are tied under the chin, leaving the face more exposed. The change would not apply to university teachers or civil service workers. Burqas, which cover the whole body, would remain prohibited.

Turkey banned head scarves in public places, schools and universities in the 1980s.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan says Turkey must lift the ban as part of democratic reforms it needs to gain membership in the European Union.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.