Turkey's parliament on Wednesday approved legislation that would allow thousands of students thrown out of universities to return, including women who violated this staunchly secular but Muslim country's ban on Islamic-style head scarves, reported AP.
The amnesty allows former university students who were dismissed from universities on academic or disciplinary grounds after June 29, 2000, to return to school.
But secular critics have said the measure is an attempt by the governing party, which has roots in political Islam, to appease conservative constituents because it will largely benefit female students dismissed from schools for breaching a strict ban on headscarves.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government points out that nine similar amnesties, which have proven very popular here, were passed by previous governments and a range of former students now stand to benefit.
Officials also point out that women who continue to wear head scarves will be banned from returning to universities.
Eyup Fatsa, a top government lawmaker, added Wednesday that the legislation would also allow students who left during a severe 2001 economic crisis to return.
Erdogan's Justice and Development Party was founded by former members of a pro-Islamic party closed by the courts.
Erdogan's party denies any Islamic agenda and has made Turkey's bid to join the European Union its top priority since sweeping to power in 2002.
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