As France Debates Burkinis, Others Make Hijab Part Of Police Uniforms

Scotland and Canada have approved the hijab as official uniform to boost the number of Muslim women joining their respective forces.

Hijabi Woman

The awful burkini incident on the French beach in Nice, where police officers forced a Muslim woman to take off her clothing in the name of “secularism,” sparked a wave of criticism across the world. Some even referred to the incident as an assault, and perhaps rightly so since it was an act of discrimination and a gross violation of human rights.

Also, it wasn’t just this particular episode that had people upset. The entire crackdown on the all-covering swimsuit is beyond absurd and for one simple reason:  A woman should be able to cover her body the way she wants to. Period.

However, when France was busy obsessing over what women should or should not wear to the beach, Canada and Scotland introduced new rules allowing their female police officers to wear hijab while on duty.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who don an iconic red uniform that dates all the way back to the 1800s, will allow its female Muslim officers to wear hijab with their felt Stetson hats. The authorities aim to both “better reflect the diversity” in Canada's communities and to attract more Muslim women to the force.

“The commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police recently approved this addition to the uniform,” Scott Bardsley said. “This is intended to better reflect the diversity in our communities and encourage more Muslim women to consider the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as a career option.”

The RCMP is the third police force in the country to make hijab a part of its uniform after Toronto and Edmonton.

burkini ban

As for the burkini ban, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made his thoughts on the matter public on Tuesday.

“In Canada, can we speak of acceptance, openness, friendship, understanding?” he was quoted as saying by the AFP. “It is about where we are going and what we are going through every day in our diverse and rich communities.”

Similarly, in the United Kingdom, Police Scotland announced the hijab would become part of its official uniform. The agency hopes the move will “encourage women from Muslim communities, who may previously not have seen policing as a career option, to reconsider.”

“This is a positive step in the right direction, and I am delighted that Police Scotland is taking productive steps in order to ensure that our organization is seen to be inclusive and represents the diverse communities that we serve across Scotland,” Fahad Bashir, the chair of the Scottish Police Muslim Association, said in a statement. “No doubt this will encourage more women from Muslim and minority ethnic backgrounds to join Police Scotland.”

Although officers have always had the option to don their religious headwear, the formal announcement is nonetheless gratifying. So far, Police Scotland only has six female Muslim officers in their ranks, though none of them wears hijab on or off duty, according to the BBC

The new laws make the two countries amongst the first to make broad exceptions for the religious head garb, alongside Sweden, Norway and rest of the United Kingdom. London Metropolitan Police approved the hijab as part of the officers' uniforms nearly a decade ago.

As for the United States, there might not be separate laws regarding the headscarf, but the St. Paul Police Department in Minnesota recently swore in its first hijab-wearing officer.

Banner Credits: Reuters

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