The European Commission (EC), which has in the past consistently avoided mentioning Turkey's headscarf controversy in its progress reports, has announced that it welcomes "growing consensus" on an issue that has polarized the country since the 1990s Today`s Zaman reported.
Responding to a question, the spokesman for Stefan Fule, the commissioner for enlargement and European neighborhood policy, said it was up to Turkey to find its own compromise on the subject.
"The commission welcomes a growing consensus on this issue in Turkey," said spokesman Peter Stano. He went on to underline Turkish women's freedom of choice. "It is important that this consensus ensures the free choice of Turkish women, whatever their beliefs and opinions, free from pressures of any kind, including peer pressure," he said.
He also stressed the different rules and practices across Europe and the lack of a unified standard on the issue. "The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has in the past ruled that the issue of headscarves is one for each member state of the Council of Europe to decide for itself, and this issue is therefore not commented upon by the EC in relation to compliance with the political criteria."
Every fall the European Commission publishes a report detailing problems regarding religious freedoms, but the body has consistently shied away from Turkey's headscarf ban. The EC has been criticized by Muslim groups in Turkey for turning a blind eye to the problems of the religious majority in the country.
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