Istanbul, Aug 10 () - A top court in Turkey has ruled that asking women wearing headscarves to take off their topcoats while entering a public legal institution is violates freedom of religion and faith.
The decision came about as a result of an individual application filed by Esma Nur Özbey, after Özbey denied security guards’ request to take off her topcoat while passing through an electromagnetic security checkpoint at the entrance of Istanbul’s Bakırköy Courthouse in January 2013. Her attempt to sue the guards on charges of insult was rejected.
Afterwards, Özbey appealed to the Constitution Court claiming that “her freedom of religion and faith” was violated. Eventually, the Constitutional Court unanimously decided that Özbey’s freedom of religion and conscience, secured in Article 24 of the Constitution, was violated and ordered 3,000 Turkish Liras be paid to her in non-pecuniary damages.
The applicant’s wearing of a topcoat and her refusal to take it off are practices required by Islam, the top court said in its ruling released on Aug. 10.
“… There is a direct link between the applicant’s being forced to take off her clothing and her avoiding to take off her cloth, and her religious belief. For this reason, there is a need to accept that the applicant’s freedom of religion and conscience was interfered with,” the Constitution court said, arguing that both administrative and legal officials failed to fully explain why and how security would be jeopardized when “the applicant, who wore a topcoat covering her entire body as a requirement of her religious faith, didn’t take off her topcoat.”