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    Norway backtracks on decision to allow hijab with police uniform



    Keltoum Hasnaoui Missoum

    Politidirektoratet sier ja til hijab

    4 februar 2009 -- Politidirektoratet sier ja til bruk av hodeplagget hijab til den norske politiuniformen. Det er konklusjonen i direktoratets innstilling til Justisdepartementet. Departementet hadde i utgangspunktet unntatt innstillingen fra offentligheten, men etter Aftenbladets klage på vedtaket er brevet gjort kjent. Politidirektør Ingelin Killengreen begrunner sin positive inntilling til bruk av hijab blant annet med ønsket om å rekruttere bredt og sikre at politiet representerer alle samfunnslag uavhengig av livssyn og etnisitet.

    Dermed er Keltoum Hasnaoui Missoum fra Sandnes nærmere målet om å få lov til å bruke hijab til politiuniformen. Den 23 årige kvinnen, opprinnelig fra Algerie, spurte i brevs form direktoratet om å få lov til å bruke hijab under utdanningen og senere til uniformen. Den endelige avgjørelsen ligger hos justisminister Knut Storberget.

    Her er den fullstendige konklusjonen fra politidirektoratet og politidirektør Ingelin Killengreen:

    «Politidirektoratet er ut fra en samlet vurdering av de hensyn som er nevnt foran, positivt til at det gis anledning til å benytte religiøst hodeplagg til politiuniformen. Vi mener at hensynet til å rekruttere bredt og sikre at politiet representerer alle samfunnslag, uavhengig av livssyn og etnisitet, må komme foran et strengt krav til en nøytral politiuniform. Det vil være nødvendig å foreta en endring i uniformsreglementet for politiet. Som kjent er uniformsreglementet fastsatt ved Kgl. resolusjon av 5. august 1995.»


    February 4, 2009 -- Women in the police will now be allowed to use the hijab with their police uniform. This is the conclusion in the directorate's recommendation to the justice ministry, reports Aftenbladet.no.

    Police commissioner Ingelin Killengreen explains the decision saying that they want to recruit widely and ensure that the police represents all of society, regardless of outlook on life and ethnicity.

    The question of wearing a hijab in the police came up last October. 23 year old Keltoum Hasnaoui Missoum from Sandnes in Rogaland, originally from Algeria, sent a letter to the police directorate asking how it will be accepted if she wore a hijab with her police uniform.

    The army permits wearing a hijab. The Hijab is also permitted with a police uniform in the UK and the US.

    The police's union had argued the entire time that the hijab doesn't belong with the uniform. Arne Johannessen, head of the union, acknowledged that wearing a hijab could make it easier for the police to contact Muslim women, but thinks that the argument fails when it comes to the principle of the case.

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    February 5, 2009 -- The Police Directorate has decided that it will be permitted to wear hijab with the Norwegian police uniform. Police Director Ingelin Killengreen says the move is part of a desire to secure broad recruitmet.

    Killengren points to the fact that among new immigrants there is a large number of women who for religious reasons wear hijab.

    By refusing to allow these to wear their headdress, we would in reality exclude in particular these groups from serving in the police force, the Police Director says.

    The police depend on trust to create security and prevent and fight crime. It is therefore important that all parts of our society should feel equal in their relations with the police, she says.

    The head of the Policemen's Union. Arne Johannessen, is surprised and disappointed by the decision: We have a police force which is supposed to symbolize neutrality while in uniform, Johanessen says.

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    Oslo, February 11, 2009 (AFP) -- Norway’s government will re-examine its decision to allow Muslim women police officers to wear the Islamic head scarf following massive criticism of the ruling, Justice Minister Knut Storberget has said.

    “In light of the debate that has surfaced ... especially the reactions from (the main police union) Politiets Fellesforbund, I think it is necessary to start over again,” Storberget said during a televised debate on TV2 on Tuesday night. A similar statement was posted yesterday on the ministry’s website.

    Storberget’s comment came a week after Norway’s centre-left government approved a police decision to allow female officers to wear the Islamic headscarf, or hijab, in a bid to improve recruitment of Muslim officers.

    The decision sparked an outcry, especially from the main opposition populist right Progress Party, which decried the “gradual Islamisation” of the Scandinavian country.

    The police union, which has demanded that force uniforms remain “neutral,” also objected.

    Storberget said the question would now be reevaluated. “We’re not saying no (but) we’re not saying yes either,” he said.

    Several other European countries, including Sweden and Britain, allow their police officers to wear religious headwear.

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    OSLO, February 13, 2009 — The Norwegian government's decision to rethink its earlier approval to amend the police uniform law to accommodate hijab is upsetting the Muslim minority in the Scandinavian country.

    "It will dash the dreams of Muslim girls to join the police force," Brahim Belkilani, the head of the Islamic League in Norway, told IslamOnline.net on Friday, February 13.

    "This step will impose isolation on the Muslim minority instead of opening the door for positive integration."

    Justice Minister Knut Storberget said Wednesday that he would reexamine an earlier decision to allow Muslim women to join the police force while donning their hijab.

    "In light of the debate that has surfaced…especially the reactions from (the main police union) Politiets Fellesforbund, I think it is necessary to start over again."

    Keltoum Hasnaoui, a 23-year-old Norwegian Muslim of Algerian origin, had petitioned the Justice Ministry on her right to serve in the police force with her hijab.

    After consultation with and support from the Police Directorate, the ministry agreed to amend the police uniform law to allow hijab.

    The decision sparked an outcry, especially from the opposition Progress Party and the police union.

    Storberget said the earlier approval would now be reevaluated.

    "We're not saying no (but) we're not saying yes either."

    Muslim leaders warn that banning hijab-clad Muslims from joining the police force would be a violation of Norway's constitution as well as the international law.

    "It restricts religious minorities' right to work," said Belkilani, whose group was established in 1987.

    Norwegian Muslims are estimated at 150,000 out of the country's 4.5 million population.

    The majority of Muslims have Pakistani, Somali, Iraqi and Moroccan backgrounds.

    Community leaders have launched a media campaign to explain to the public the importance of hijab.

    "Muslim leaders have published many articles and talked to the media to explain that hijab is not a religious emblem but an obligatory code of dress that every Muslim woman must wear," Belkilani said.

    "It is the right and duty of Muslim women to wear hijab."

    A series of meeting are also planned between Muslim community leaders and Norwegian officials on the issue.

    "The discussions will be behind close doors to avoid outside influence and ensure that the issue will be dealt with in a good way," said Belkilani.

    Basim Ghozlan, a community activist, said Norwegian Muslims favor dialogue on the issue.

    "The Muslim minority is not against dialogue. We only reject stereotypes."

    Several European countries, including Sweden and Britain, already allow police officers to wear hijab.

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