Ankara:  Female students in Turkey are free to wear the Islamic veil, or the hijab, to class, the country’s Education Minister Nabi Avci has announced.

Avci’s announcement Tuesday came after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan decided Monday to repeal a law stipulating that girls keep their heads uncovered in high school classes.

The move got a negative response from some teachers’ unions, which accused the government of trampling on Turkey’s secular values, while other unions applauded the decision.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party said the conservative AKP was trying to  distract attention from the country’s economic woes and foreign-policy problems and said the new policy serves ideological rather than educational goals.

Last year, the AKP government authorised female state employees to wear the hijab to work.

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