Muslim Mounties can now wear a hijab



RCMP commissioner Bob Paulson, pictured, said in a Jan. 14 note that “Tests have shown that the hijab does not reduce the effectiveness of an officer in the exercise of her functions.” (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick)

The RCMP has introduced a hijab for its female Muslim officers.

The change was actually quietly introduced earlier this year, but not made public.

“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,” a spokesman for Canada’s Public Safety Minister told the newswire service Agence France-Presse.

There was outcry in Canada in 1990 when the force first allowed Sikh officers to wear turbans.

While that cultural debate seems archaic in 2016, the introduction of the hijab as part of RCMP uniforms — the traditional veiled head covering worn by Muslim women — will no doubt become part of the global debate over whether Muslim garments are symbols of repression, or expressions of free choice.

That debate has been raging in Europe, where Germany recently proposed a burka ban for schools, universities and public workers and France has banned “burkinis” — swimsuits that cover the entire body — from French beaches and pools.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls recently stated the swimsuit reflects a worldview based on “the enslavement of women.”

The RCMP-approved hijab does not cover the officer’s face and is easily and quickly removable, according to an internal memo obtained by La Presse in Montreal.

“Tests have shown that the hijab does not reduce the effectiveness of an officer in the exercise of her functions,” RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said in a note dated Jan. 14 according to La Press.

The RCMP is the third police force in the country — behind Toronto and Edmonton — to approve hijabs as part of their uniforms.

Muslims comprise the second largest religious group in Canada, a group that is reportedly growing faster than any other religion.