Canada’s police force has announced that its Muslim officers can wear hijab as part of a drive to encourage more Muslim recruitment.
The government said Tuesday that officers working for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) can wear hijab, a rare addition to the symbolic uniform of the force.
"The commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police recently approved this addition to the uniform," Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale's spokesman, Scott Bardsley, said, adding, "This is intended to better reflect the diversity in our communities and encourage more Muslim women to consider the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as a career option.”
Local newspapers said three types of hijab were tested before one was selected as suitable for police work, saying the garment did not encumber officers.
Montreal daily La Presse said some 30 officers had asked for a relaxing of the rules for religious or cultural reasons over the past two years. It said in some cases, the officers had also wanted to grow beards to conform to Islamic rules.
The uniform of the RCMP officers, deemed as iconic and symbolic for the Canadians, has undergone only minor changes since it was introduced in 1800s.
Reports say the policy was quietly enacted earlier this year and no officers had yet asked to wear hijab. However, the Mounties hope the changes to the uniform could boost recruiting of Muslim women as it has been the case in Toronto and Edmonton. Officials said similar policies have also been adopted in Britain, Sweden and Norway, as well as some US states.