EU spokesman reacts to headscarf incident at EU parliament

Spokesman for European Commission says he is 'surprised' that Turkish journalist wearing headscarf was denied entry to European Parliament in Strasbourg

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

European Parliament in Strasbourg

European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said he was “surprised” to hear that an Anadolu Agency journalist was denied entry to the European Parliament for wearing a headscarf.

On Wednesday, the European Parliament in Strasbourg briefly refused to let in the Turkish reporter because she refused to remove her headscarf for an ID photo.

"I am very surprised to hear about the incident you described and am sure that there is an explanation," Schinas told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.

"The [European] Commission does obviously not have any rules in a place which would define specific treatment for visitors or journalists with headscarves and I would be very surprised if this was different for the EU Parliament," he said. 

The Anadolu Agency correspondent was already accredited to cover the plenary session of the European Parliament and follow the participation of Turkish Minister for the EU Volkan Bozkir.

However, once she showed up at the reception to receive an accreditation pass, European Parliament employees told her to remove her veil for an ID photo.

The journalist refused as she had attended EP sessions several times since 2014 without ever being asked to take off her veil.

Once she called the EP’s media office to explain the incident, a press officer told her to "try to enter from another door”, said the Anadolu Agency reporter.

"I cannot grant you the accreditation card without you taking a photo without the headscarf," the press officer said.

A cameraman from Turkish news channel TRT Haber, attempted to film the scene but was escorted out by a security officer. He was also forced to delete the footage.

The security guard denied access to other Turkish journalists, too, while threatening to withdraw the accreditation of the TRT cameraman.

Later, a protocol officer arrived and said that there was a "misunderstanding" and proposed that the Anadolu Agency reporter partially remove her scarf, before backpedaling after the Anadolu Agency reporter questioned the legal basis of his request.

Finally, the reporter was able to enter the parliament building. She said she received confirmation from the permanent delegation of Turkey to the Council of Europe that there was no regulation against wearing veil at the European Parliament or the Council of Europe.


TRTWorld, AA