Sunday, April 02, 2006

Non-Muslim police forced to wear headscarf

IT WAS an unusual sight last month when non-Muslim police recruits donned the Islamic headscarf for a parade during Malaysia's Police Day celebrations.

Ms R. Ratnacristinavany, 19, a Hindu, told the Star newspaper that she did not mind because it was for an official function, and she had had her orders. A Christian, Ms Katherine Minis Kueh, 21, described it as 'only a piece of cloth'.

But although they appeared not to mind, their new dress code has become a bone of contention among non-Muslim MPs who say it is an imposition of religious values.

Inspector-General Bakri Omar had issued a circular making it compulsory for all female officers to wear the headscarf, or tudung, during marchpasts, graduations and the National Day parade.

Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has come out in support of the dress code. Speaking at the Police Day celebrations on March 25, he said the tudung was compulsory only because it had been made part of the parade uniform.

Halfwise comment:
Canadians will remember the fuss over whether Sikh Mounties could wear a turban in place of the uniform's Stetson. Clearly, not all societies deal with this sort of issue the same way.

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