Whether it’s worn by a police officer, hockey player, usher, or soldier, surely the ostensible reason for donning a uniform is to have, well, uniformity.
But things are changing in regard to uniforms at that ever-sensitive “service” formerly known as the Toronto police force.
Indeed, the police have announced they’re going to accommodate Muslim policewomen who want to wear the hijab on duty.
Some might hail such a move as another shining example of “reasonable accommodation”; others — count me among them — look upon this directive as another assault against Canadian traditions.
Yet again, a public institution appears to be bowing to the tyranny of political correctness — bending over backwards to accommodate certain individuals, some of whom are quite unaccommodating of western values.
The question arises: What’s driving this directive? Why is it important for the police to have hijab-wearing policewomen in the first place?
Contrary to widespread popular belief, the Qur’an doesn’t mandate Muslim women to wear the hijab.
In this regard, the apparel accommodation isn’t the same as allowing a Sikh to wear a turban.
(I’d also argue there’s an historical reason for permitting Sikhs to wear turbans, given that Sikh military brigades have long been an integral part of the British Empire.) If anything, the hijab is a political statement and a symbol of fundamentalism.
In some cases, a woman wearing such a headscarf is being pressured by her family to do so (case in point, the dearly departed Aqsa Parvez.) Either way, seeing such a garment as part of a police uniform is odd. Imagine if a citizen was to call the cops regarding a suspected honour killing in the neighbourhood and the policewoman who responds is decked out in a hijab? Would this not be unsettling?
Also, the police have surely put themselves in a sticky situation regarding haberdashery accommodation.
For example, if a female police officer demands that she be allowed to wear a niqab or a burqa, how could such a request possibly be denied, given the precedent that’s been set with the hijab?
Indeed, just how far do we take reasonable accommodation in the police department?
Do Muslim police officers reserve the right not to work with the Canine Unit, given that many Muslims consider dogs “unclean”?
Will ham sandwiches be banned from police stations due to dietary restrictions?
As well, is there not a profound double-standard at play here?
For example, here’s a scenario I’d find most amusing to observe: Imagine “Constable Duncan MacDonald,” who is of Scottish heritage, waltzes into the station tomorrow decked out in a ceremonial kilt, complete with sporran. How many nanoseconds would tick by before P.C. MacDonald is hauled before a supervisor and sternly disciplined?
Something is indeed rotten these days when it comes to sensitivity issues.
Consider the plight of Tarek Fatah. This moderate Muslim author has been subjected to written death threats from radical Muslims, yet the police have decided not to lay charges.
And, full disclosure: Last summer at Yonge Dundas Square, your correspondent was punched in the face by a hijab-wearing woman who objected to me taking pictures. Even though the assault was photographed and eye-witnessed, police declined to lay charges.
What’s wrong with this picture?
Off topic but related: Hijabi almost strangled to death after headscarf caught in dough mixer