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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 November 2006, 13:35 GMT
Turkey court clears archaeologist
Muazzez Ilmiye Cig acquitted by Istanbul court
Supporters applauded Dr Cig after her acquittal
A court in the Turkish city of Istanbul has acquitted a 92-year-old academic of charges of insulting Muslim women and inciting religious hatred.

Archaeologist Muazzez Ilmiye Cig was prosecuted over a book in which she linked the wearing of headscarves with ancient Sumerian sexual rites.

The judge ruled at the first hearing of her trial that her actions did not constitute a crime.

Dr Cig's publisher was also cleared in a trial lasting less than half an hour.

The archaeologist was applauded by supporters as she left the courtroom.

Intellectuals prosecuted

This trial is the latest in a series of prosecutions of Turkish intellectuals, including 2006 Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk and novelist Elif Shafak.

Charges were brought against her by a Turkish lawyer who took offence at her 2005 book "My Reactions as a Citizen".

In the book Dr Cig said that headscarves were first worn more than 5,000 years ago by Sumerian priestesses who initiated young men into sex.

Dr Cig is an expert in the ancient Sumerian civilisation which emerged in Mesopotamia in the third millennia BC.

The issue of headscarves has polarised Turkey in recent years.

Although predominantly Muslim, Turkey is a secular state and headscarves are banned in government offices and universities.

The ruling Justice and Development Party, which has roots in political Islam, has unsuccessfully tried to lift the headscarf ban.

Country profile: Turkey
25 Oct 06 |  Country profiles

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