Muslim Women Mounties Now Allowed to Wear Hijab

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The Mounties have received another uniform policy to permit female Muslim officers to wear the hijab. Scott Bardsley, a representative for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, affirmed that RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) Commissioner Bob Paulson just recently endorsed an expansion to the uniform policy to permit female officers to wear the head scarf “if they so choose.”

“The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is a progressive and inclusive police service that values and respects persons of all cultural and religious backgrounds,” Bardsley said. Male individuals from the Sikh faith have been  allowed to wear the turban as a major part of the RCMP uniform since  the early 1990s, he noted. That privilege was won by Baltej Singh Dhillon, a youth practicing Sikh who wanted to wind up a Mountie yet also wanted to wear a turban at work.

The national government’s choice in 1990 to end the boycott and permit him provoked emotional debate and broad challenges across Canada. Bardsley said the new policy is proposed to better reflect diversity in Canadian communities and to urge more Muslim women to consider the RCMP as a career alternative.

RCMP Staff Sgt. Julie Gagnon said current policy, which became effective in January 2016, requires an “exemption” to wear the hijab from the chief, only the senior officer allowed to support religious- based accommodations. Gagnon said the RCMP built up a hijab for candidates or serving female individuals from the Islamic faith, reflecting “the diversity of the RCMP’s workforce.” Which underwent rigorous assessing to ensure the design meets “the highest standards of officer safety.” She said the RCMP at present has no members requesting to wear the hijab on duty.

The only other religious or cultural item permitted is the turban for male officers.

Edmonton and Toronto too- Bardsley said the RCMP will be the third Canadian police force to embrace the hijab strategy, behind Toronto and Edmonton police services. Police service over the U.K., Sweden, and Norway, and some in U.S. states have adapted similar approaches. The National Council of Canadian Muslims applauded the policy change, calling it a “welcome one and a natural evolution for Canadian policing.” The backing group said three sorts of headscarves were tried to select one that would not hinder officers and could be effortlessly expelled when required.

“While in 1990 there was initial reluctance to allow Sikh RCMP officers to wear the turban as part of their uniforms, Canadians have since embraced the change and we expect that this will be the same with the decision to allow the hijab, said the council’s communications director Amira Elghawaby in a release. The Canadian Muslim population is growing and this decision will help reflect the richness and diversity of our country as well as open up career options for minorities.” The military has longstanding policies “to protect and promote the religious or spiritual rights and freedoms [Canadian Armed Forces] members,” which includes accommodating religious and spiritual requirements “if military practicable.”

“The CAF would evaluate a request, taking into account the religious beliefs of the member, and make a decision based on safety and operational considerations,” spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier said. In past, the policy has permitted individuals from the Sikh religion to wear a turban, as long as it doesn’t endanger operational safety.

Conditions- As per the military’s dress guidelines manual dated 2001, individuals can wear the hijab with specific conditions. “For spiritual and religious reasons, members are authorized to wear the hijab, provided that any danger should be avoided when they carry some types of operational gear parts such as gas mask, oxygen mask, combat/vehicle/flying/ construction helmets, diver’s mask, etc.,” the policy states.

“In case of real danger, these members shall modify their hairstyling or hijab, or both, in a way that will allow them to wear the requested gear.”

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