Dress ban splits campus

November 17, 2006

Almost half of Turkish students oppose the ban on women wearing religious headscarves on campus, while a third back the prohibition, a poll has found.

The findings come from a survey of the political and social opinions of 4,000 students at 30 universities.

Tens of thousands of women have been prevented from attending university since a law prohibiting religious dress in public buildings began to be enforced ten years ago. Turkey is a secular state, but its population is mainly Muslim: 64 per cent of students said they attend Friday prayers.

A significant number held strong traditional beliefs. Twelve per cent said they thought it was "normal" to kill someone to protect a family's honour.

Some 60 per cent of male and 48 per cent of female students said a woman should be a virgin when she married.

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