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Turkey's Parliamentary Speaker Seeks to Curtail Court's Powers

Turkey's parliamentary speaker has called for changes to the country's political system in hopes of reducing the powers of Turkey's top court.

Koksal Toptan suggested a new constitution and re-installing the upper house of parliament, or senate. He said a two-chamber parliamentary system will ease pressures on Turkey's constitutional court.

Toptan spoke a day after Turkey's ruling AK party accused the constitutional court of overstepping its authority by annulling a law that allowed Muslim headscarves to be worn at universities.

A party official said the court violated Turkey's separation of powers by interfering in parliament's authority to pass laws.

On Thursday, the court annulled constitutional forms that lifted a decades-old ban on wearing headscarves at schools. It said the reforms violate the country's secular principles.

U.S.-based Human Rights Watch today criticized the court's ruling as a blow to freedom of religion.

Turkey's President Abdullah Gul approved the constitutional reforms in February, but many universities defied them and blocked female students with headscarves.

The Islamist-rooted AK party says wearing headscarves at universities should be a matter of personal choice.

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

Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.