FACTBOX: Policies on Muslim scarves and veils in Europe
(Reuters) - Turkey's main opposition party said on Wednesday it had asked the Constitutional Court to quash a government-backed reform aimed at easing a ban on women students wearing the Muslim headscarf at university.
The wearing of Muslim face veils and headscarves in schools, universities and at work is a sensitive topic across Europe.
Here is a summary of policy in some key countries:
* TURKEY: Mainly Muslim but secular Turkey has banned Islamic head-dress in universities and public offices. But parliament on February 9 resoundingly approved constitutional changes aimed at lifting a ban on female students wearing the Muslim headscarf in universities. President Abdullah Gul approved the reform last Friday.
-- Face coverings such as the Afghan-style burqa or Middle Eastern-style niqab are relatively rare in secular Turkey, which traditionally follows a moderate brand of Sunni Islam and where segregation of the sexes is very much the exception, not the rule.
* NETHERLANDS: The Dutch government is set to retreat from a plan for a general ban on Muslim face veils but stop women wearing them in schools and government offices, media reported this month.
-- The cabinet has decided against a broad ban on the burqa or niqab in public as that would violate the principle of freedom of religion, the reports said.
-- The Muslim community says only about 50 women wear the head-to-toe burqa or the niqab, a face veil that conceals everything but the eyes. They said a general ban would heighten alienation among the country's 1 million Muslims.
* FRANCE: France, with Europe's largest Muslim minority, banned headscarves from its state primary and secondary schools in 2004 under a law against conspicuous religious symbols that also included Jewish kippas and large Christian crosses.
-- Women at university can wear headscarves, since they are adults. Teachers and other civil servants may not wear any religious symbols at work at all.
* GERMANY: Policy on face veils and headscarves is a matter for individual states, not the federal government.
-- Seven of Germany's 16 states have banned teachers in state schools from wearing Islamic headscarves, a policy which angers Muslim groups who say it discriminates against them.
-- The majority of Germany's roughly 3.2 million Muslims are of Turkish origin.
(Reporting by Reuters bureaux; Editing by David Cutler and Jon Boyle)
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