Edmonton Police Services has designed and approved a new headbag Muslim female police officers can wear as part of their uniform. A hijab tailor worked with the police tactics training unit, as well as the police equity, diversity and human rights team, to design a headbag that covers the head and neck of an officer without covering the face.
Edmonton Journal “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,” reads a statement from Edmonton Police Services. (Just wait until a perp grabs onto it and strangles the female officer with it)
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.” (Unlike Quebec, if adopted, the proposed Quebec Charter of Values will forbid public servants from wearing religious symbols, including hijabs, turbans and large crucifixes, among other symbols) The police service doesn’t currently have any members or applicants requesting the hijab, but Soraya Zaki Hafez, president of the Edmonton chapter of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, believes some women may now consider being a police officer, where before they did not.
Hafez said some Muslim women wear a head scarf as a way to identify themselves as devout Muslims (The same kind who mutilate their daughters’ genitals and blow themselves up in crowds)
On the other hand, FARZANA HASSAN, writing for the Toronto Sun, considers this decision a huge blunder.
We seek to be “inclusive” of all cultures in Canada — even the ones that shun Canadian values and conspire to undermine its democracy and diversity. The Edmonton police service has announced its decision to design a Muslim head covering, as part of a Muslim woman’s police uniform.
Did someone actually move this in a meeting? Was it really seconded? This will be a slicker version of the hijab, with snaps to undo it quickly, as if this is the only problem the hijab poses. The real problem is not with the garb itself but what it represents. This accommodating move is designed to attract more Muslim women to the police force, but it conveys the impression the Edmonton police wish to attract only hijabi women.
They seem to think all Muslim women who join the force will want to wear the hijab. It makes you wonder why the hijab has become so intricately linked to Muslim women that both must now apparently be acknowledged in the same breath? Automatically associating the hijab with Muslim women stereotypes them. It implies, at the very least, that only those who wear the hijab are authentic Muslims.
The Qu’ran does not mandate the hijab, so wearing it is an odd criterion for authenticity. This unwittingly endorses a cultural practice that is actually steeped in patriarchy. For those of that ilk, this latest round of exalting the hijab by giving it a prominent place in a Canadian police service counts as a victory.
The proposal has been made as a “gesture of inclusion,” says Scott McKeen, an Edmonton councillor, in response to the aspirations of a community who “can feel a little skittish at times” about Islamophobia. Sadly, this attitude, however well-intentioned, plays into the hands of those Muslims who hold moderates in contempt. The hijab brigade is busily trying to sell the idea the hijab is “liberating”.
This partly accounts for the hosannas greeting the decision of the Edmonton police service. How lovely it is that Muslim women can “do everything” while being suitably attired! They can be effective law enforcement agents and their hijabs need not hinder their movements. Many hijab supporters would love to project that view and, by doing so, shrug off all criticism that the hijab is patriarchal.
The reality is that wearing the hijab inescapably endorses patriarchy.
It tells Muslim women they alone are responsible for preserving a kind of propriety that men have defined, and that if they shirk this responsibility, they will be fair game for all the philandering and promiscuous men out there. By announcing this user-friendly hijab, the Edmonton police have, unwittingly, legitimized a mindset that is rooted in the value system of seventh-century Arabia, one that reduces women to the status of chattel.
Quebec may be different, but their legislators know a thing or two about Muslim garb. For guidance on issues like the hijab and niqab, women’s equality, women’s liberty, freedom and sense of dignity, Canadian authorities need to look eastward to Montreal rather than westward to Edmonton.
In a noble effort to dispel any notion that Alberta is parochial or racist, the police in Edmonton have blundered. Their naive obsession with proving themselves tolerant seems to have clouded their judgment. They should repudiate the hijab as patriarchal — even the snappy and stylish one they propose. They should not dignify it with official recognition.