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The Hijab Is Now An Official Part Of The Scottish Police Uniform

What better way to fight bigotry than to lead by example?

[Photo: Flickr user Dave Conner]

French towns may be banning burkinis, but other European countries are going in the opposite direction to accommodate Muslim garb.

Scotland's police will make the hijab an official part of police uniform, joining London’s Metropolitan Police, which has allowed officers to wear the hijab since 2001. Previously, the headwear was permitted in Scotland only with the permission of a senior officer. Now officers can wear one whether their boss likes it or not.

The change has been made in order to "encourage women from Muslim communities, who may previously not have seen policing as a career option, to reconsider," said Police Scotland in a press release.

[Photo: Flickr user Dave Conner]

The change comes as some right-wing French mayors pursue a crusade against the burkini, with armed police forcing a sunbathing woman to remove her clothing, and then fining her.

In Scotland, the idea is to remove barriers to joining the police. "Like many other employers, especially in the public sector, we are working towards ensuring our service is representative of the communities we serve," said Chief Constable Phil Gormley.

Religious clothing is often used as a way to discriminate against minorities, but while the French seem to be obsessed with the hijab, with the Prime Minister attempting to ban it in universities for example, the U.K. is more progressive. Last year, for instance, the law was changed to allow Sikhs to wear turbans to work, whatever their job, with very few exceptions based on safety (bomb disposal, firefighters entering a burning building), where a helmet must be worn.

Making the hijab as an official article of police uniform clearly promotes inclusion. What better way to fight bigotry than to lead by example? Harassing lone women on beaches because of what they are wearing also sets a strong example, but it’s pretty clear that it’s a bad one.

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