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Western Canadian province Edmonton police approves Muslim hijab
Friday December 13, 2013 8:14 PM, IINA

Muslim police officers in the city of Edmonton in the western Canadian province of Alberta will be allowed to don hijab, after a new design for police uniform with hijab was approved by police officials.

"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 Edmonton Journal. "To be accepted, I think it's a great feeling."

Hafez was joyous about the recent approval of a new design for police officers willing to don the Islamic headscarf or hijab.

Before the decision, a hijab tailor worked with the police tactics training unit, as well as the police equity, diversity and human rights team, to design a head scarf that covers the head and neck of an officer without covering the face.

"Edmonton Police Services (EPS) respects a Muslim woman's choice to wear the head scarf," read a statement from EPS.

"The Edmonton Police Service continues to change with the times, as have a number of police, justice and military organizations in western nations that have already modified their uniforms to accommodate the hijab.

"After rigorous testing, it was determined that the head scarf did not pose any risk to the officer wearing it, or reduce officer effectiveness, nor interfere with police duties or public interactions," the statement added.

Edmonton Sikh officers can already wear turbans. Muslims make around 2.8 percent of Canada's 32.8 million population, and Islam is the number one non-Christian faith in the north American country.

Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one's affiliations. A survey has showed the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian.

The Muslim leader believes some women may now consider being a police officer, after getting a uniform that respects their faith.

"It means that they are following their religion closely," Hafez, the president of the Edmonton chapter of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, said. "Islam is a religion of, we submit to God and they feel that God wants them to be this way, cover up."

Hafez said the uniform hijab has no excess material, but is tailored to the woman's head. Unlike regular hijabs, usually tied with pins or sewn stitches , police uniform hijab is tied with a snap button, which means it will come off quickly and safely should someone pull it.

"I think we are a pioneer," Hafez said of the Edmonton police force. "I think other provinces will follow suit and ask to follow the design."

Hijab has come under spot light in Canada since the proposal of the controversial Parti Québécois charter which claims protecting state secularism by prohibiting public-sector workers from wearing religious symbols in workplaces such as schools, hospitals and daycares.

The ban would affect everyone from government workers and doctors to teachers and daycare workers.

The Regroupement des centres de femmes du Québec has voiced worries and appealed for calm after witnessing disturbing acts of anti-Muslim intolerance, from spitting to racist insults.

According to the rights group, scores of incidents involving Muslim women wearing Hijab were targeted had been reported since the introduction of the Quebec charter of values last September.

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