Turkey's constitutional court ruled nine to two to block the government's move to lift the ban on the wearing of Islamic head scarves at universities. In a written statement, it said the proposal would go against the secular nature of the learning institutions. It did not give details of its reasoning.
Deputy leader of the ruling AK Party Bekir Bozdag attacked the decision.
He said the constitutional court made an unconstitutional decision. He said the decision is so broad it opens every legislation to possible attack.
The Islamic-rooted AK party proposed the head scarf amendment last February in response to a strong pressure from its religious grassroots supporters. It met with equally strong opposition from secular groups and the influential military.
Political analysts here say the court's decision to reject the government's proposal to make the wearing of head scarves at universities a matter of personal choice does not bode well for the government.
The chief prosecutor, in a separate case filed with the Constitutional Court, is already seeking to disband the ruling AK party on the grounds that it is undermining secularism in Turkey. The prosecutor is using the government's head scarves proposal as evidence of the party's anti-secular nature.
Turkey is overwhelmingly Muslim, but its founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, rooted the government on strict principles of separation from Islam.
The head of the powerful Turkish army, General Yasar Buyukanit, in a speech Thursday criticizing the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
He said, "We follow with concern certain centers that want to change Turkey's structure in recent years. He said the secular state created by Ataturk is respected across the region and the judiciary of Turkey will never allow this change.The government itself had no immediate reaction to the ruling. Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek was quoted by news agencies as saying the government will wait for the court's explanation of its decision before responding.