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Turkish court rules in favor of headscarf historian

[JURIST] A Turkish trial court on Wednesday ruled that retired archaeologist Muazzez Ilmiye Cig [profile] violated no criminal law by writing historical accounts [IW &A Blog post] of headscarves that offended some Muslims. Cig faced up to 1 1/2 years' imprisonment for insulting religion by postulating in her book that headscarves were originally worn before the founding of Islam by ancient Mesopotamian priestesses who initiated young men into sex. Traditionally worn by Muslim women, headscarves and other forms of religious dress [JURIST news archive] are banned from many public places in modern Turkey, a majority Muslim country despite official secularism. Many lawyers and pro-secular groups attended the trial in support of Cig and the prosecutor recommended that the charges be dropped. The case also drew criticism from international archaeological associations [IAA appeal] and from the European Union, which has recently warned Turkey that its laws infringing freedom of expression may delay its entry into the global body.

Cig is one of several Turkish writers and intellectuals who have recently faced legal process for their opinions or works. Although not implicated in Cig's case, a number have been charged with insulting the Turkish identity [JURIST report] under Article 301 [Amnesty backgrounder] of the Turkish penal code. Despite opposition by the European Union, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan [BBC profile] said late last month that his government has no plans to abolish [JURIST report] the controversial legislation. AP has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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