Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday his ruling AK Party (AKP) could put a constitutional amendment protecting women’s right to wear headscarves to a referendum if it was not passed by parliament.
The AKP was set to present the reform to parliament as soon as parties step up efforts to appeal to voters ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections set for June with polls showing dwindling support for Erdogan and the AKP.
The Islamic headscarf issue was once a source of deep discord in Muslim but secular Turkey, but ceased to stir controversy after reforms carried out by the Islamist-rooted AKP during its 20 years in power.
However, the secularist CHP 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.
In response, Erdogan raised the stakes by proposing a constitutional reform on the issue encompassing measures to protect the family from what he called “perverse trends,” appearing to take aim at global same-sex marriage laws.