Turkish Parliament Lift Trouser Ban
The Turkish Parliament convenes for a debate in Ankara where four female lawmakers wore their Islamic head scarves in a challenge to the country's secular tradition (Reuters)

The Turkish parliament has lifted a ban on female MPs wearing trousers in the assembly.

The move is a further liberalisation of dress rules after the landmark decision to allow female deputies to wear the Islamic headscarf.

Safak Pavey, a deputy from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), raised the issue of the trouser ban during a parliamentary debate on the sensitive headscarf issue, which has long polarised opinion in the largely Muslim but secular nation.

Pavey, who was elected to office in June 2011, has a prosthetic leg but the Turkish parliament had rejected her request to be allowed to wear trousers due to regulations which stipulate that women should only be allowed to wear suits with skirts.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling center-right Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has Islamist foundations, suggested the relaxation of the trouser ban and the opposition parties - the secularist CHP, the pro-Kurdish BDP and Turkish nationalist MHP - supported the proposal, which has now been approved by the Turkish parliament.

Parliament witnessed significant scenes in October when four AKP female lawmakers wore headscarves for the first time in the assembly.

The headscarf is understood by secularists to be an emblem of political Islam and therefore a threat to the Turkish republic's secular identity. However, the AK Party has claimed that a curb on the use of headscarves violates the norm of religious freedom.

Only quiet protests emanated from secular Turks, demonstrating the shift in attitude within Turkey after a decade of AKP rule.

The headscarf ban has been lifted in other state institutions, as well as parliament.