You may not have heard of Kadra Mohamed, but she’s being touted by some as “Minnesota’s first hijab-wearing police woman.” And while her story first made the rounds a couple of years ago, it got renewed attention recently when some well-intentioned Twitter accounts posted about her as if she just joined the force.
Mohamed, who joined the St. Paul Police Department at age 22 and became its first female Somali officer, is a Muslim who wears her traditional religious headdress each time she puts on her police uniform. This has prompted some people to ask whether or not the hijab is appropriate or safe for those who wear it.
It raises an interesting question: Should Muslim police women be allowed to wear a hijab in the United States? I say yes, and here’s why:
- Christian officers are allowed to wear crosses, and Jewish officers frequently don their symbolic yarmulke. It would be completely unfair, and discriminatory, to deny that same right to Muslim officers.
- Numerous local jurisdictions, including Washington D.C. and cities throughout Canada and Great Britain, allow Muslim women to wear a hijab. There haven’t been any problems as a result, but that hasn’t stopped critics from arguing that it’s wrong and/or dangerous.
- This isn’t just an issue with the police. Numerous organizations, including the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), have changed the rules to allow the hijab and give Muslim women a chance to participate. As long as the head scarf doesn’t impede vision or hide the individual’s face, why would it matter?
- A police officer’s hijab, like a police officer’s cross, is not a violation of church/state separation. Personal emblems and representations of faith are not governmental endorsements of a specific religion — but allowing some while disallowing others might be considered just that.
Overall, there is no evidence to suggest a cop wearing a hijab due to her personal religious beliefs would impede her work or put anyone else in danger. To argue that she shouldn’t have that right reeks of the same religious fundamentalism we ought to be fighting against. We would be rightfully outraged if women were forced to wear a hijab, and we ought to be angry at anyone who would tell a Muslim woman she’s not allowed to, especially when it’s so inconsequential in her line of work.
(Screenshot via YouTube)