The 8th Chamber of the Council of State on Thursday discussed an appeal filed by a lawyer who was denied a identity card by the TBB after she submitted a photo of herself with a headscarf. The lawyer asked the court to stay the execution of Article 20 of the TBB’s “Lawyers’ Code of Practice,” which stipulates that lawyers and interns “perform their profession at courts in an appearance that would suit the profession and without headscarf.”
The chamber issued a stay of execution on the “without headscarf” part of the article with a majority of votes on the grounds that the article erroneously regards the profession only as a public service and obliges lawyers to abide by rules which are in place for state employees.
The court noted that practicing law as a lawyer is — although a public service — a private business in the way it is conducted. “Since the profession has codes of practice of its own, practicing law as a lawyer is not seen within the definition of public service. Putting the profession under the codes of practice of state employees just on the grounds that lawyers provide public service would not comply with the qualities and necessities of the profession,” the court said.
The use of the Muslim headscarf has been a matter of contention in Turkey. A headscarf ban applies to certain public and government offices and locations in Turkey. The ban affects university students as well as those working in the public sector.
The headscarf ban in universities was eased after the Higher Education Board (YÖK) sent a circular to universities in 2010 asking them to allow headscarf-wearing students. Yet there are still some universities and professors who insist on implementing the ban.