Muslim women who wear hijabs in Scotland can now become police officers without giving up their headscarves.
The new dress code policy was introduced as a way to increase diversity and make the police force more reflective of the people it serves. Previously, officers had to request to wear a headscarf and could be denied. Now, it is freely available as part of the uniform.
Currently, six Muslim women — none of whom wear hijabs — have police badges in a force of 17,242 officers.
"I hope that this addition to our uniform options will contribute to making our staff mix more diverse and adds to the life skills, experiences and personal qualities that our officers and staff bring to policing the communities of Scotland,” said Chief Constable Phil Gormley to the BCC.
Wearing a hijab does not negatively affect a police officer’s ability to do her job. If anything, it improves her competence by making her feel more secure and valued by her peers and employers.
Conversely, denying a woman the choice to wear a hijab can harm her performance by making her feel like her background and identity are not welcome. This can also deter women from pursuing or remaining in the field.
These should be obvious statements, but across the world hostility toward Muslims seems to be increasing and dangerous stereotypes that cast all Muslims as suspect are emerging.
In the US, politicians have been calling for the ban of Muslim immigrants and for extensive surveillance of mosques. In the UK, a majority of citizens have witnessed Islamophobia. In France, crackdowns on Muslim communities have sharply risen in the past year.
In light of these developments, Scotland’s new policy is a common sense vote for inclusiveness and tolerance.
It communicates to the country’s Muslim population that they are valued. And it allows the police force to be better by bringing in people with different perspectives and knowledge of the country’s citizens.
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