Female police officers in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada will now be allowed to wear a hijab headscarf as part of their uniform.
While the Edmonton Police Service says it does not have any requests for the hijab uniform, which covers the head and neck, the new design is part of the police unit’s attempt to better reflect “the changing diversity in the community, and to facilitate the growing interest in policing careers from Edmonton’s Muslim community,” according to a police press release.
City councilor Scott McKeen told The National Post the new uniform's approval represents a “gesture of inclusion” for females, who wear the headscarf as an expression of their faith. Male officers in Edmonton can already wear turbans, the Edmonton Journal notes.
“This makes Muslim women part and parcel of that community,” Soraya Zaki Hafez, president of the Edmonton chapter of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, told the outlet. “I think we are a pioneer.”
A division of the EPS worked with a hijab tailor to develop the prototype (below), which fits under the standard police cap. Unlike the traditional headscarf, the police version was designed to be simple and easy to remove with tear-away snaps, the National Post reported.
"After rigorous testing, it was determined that the headscarf did not pose any risk to the officer wearing it, or reduce officer effectiveness, nor interfere with police duties or public interactions," the press release explains.
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“Regardless of race, culture, religion, or sexual orientation, it is important that anyone who has a calling to serve and protect Edmontonians, and passes the rigorous recruitment and police training standards, feel welcome and included in the EPS,” Kevin Galvin, Superintendent of EPS representing the Chief’s Muslim Community Liaison Committee, said in the release.
The EPS now joins other provincial departments that have approved religiously minded uniforms. According to France 24,Ontario has allowed female officers to wear hijabs with their uniforms since 2011.
However, support for the new uniform across Canada’s provinces remains controversial.
Francophone Quebec has taken to the offense by proposing the Quebec Charter of Values, part of a bill proposed earlier this year by the assembly's dominant nationalist group, Parti Quebéquois, France 24 reported. The charter would forbid public servants from wearing religious symbols, including hijabs, turbans and Jewish kippas.