AMSTERDAM – Police chiefs in the Dutch capital Amsterdam are considering allowing the Islamic hijab as part of police uniform, hoping to engage more officers with migrant background.
“We are talking about it,” the city’s most senior officer Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg told the AD paper, Dutch News reported on Thursday, May 18.
“If we cannot recruit sufficient officers with a migrant background, this is a measure which could have an impact.”
Aalbersberg says half of the city’s police force should have an ethnic minority background to better reflect the city’s population.
Currently some 52 percent of the city’s residents have “non-Dutch” roots, compared with 18 percent of police officers.
In order to change that, officials are considering adding the hijab to the uniform. Currently police officers are not allowed to wear any religious symbols.
“The make-up of Amsterdam is changing,” he said.
“I think this is a subject for debate, and that should involve the man in the street as well.”
Police union ANPV said the city’s police chiefs should not be so quick to emphasize differences.
“The minority police officers I speak to are not happy about it,” chairman Geert Priem said. “They do not want to benefit from their background.”
Muslims make up one million of the Netherlands’s 16 million population, mostly from Turkish and Moroccan origin.
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.