TORONTO – Canadian Muslims are welcoming the decision by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to allow members of the force to wear the Islamic headscarf, commonly known as hijab.
“This decision by the Mounties, as Canada’s national police service, is a welcome one and a natural evolution for Canadian policing that follows similar moves in the private sector as well as in other police services across the country,” says National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) Communications Director Amira Elghawaby.
Three types of headscarves were tested before one was selected which would not encumber officers and could be removed easily if needed.
“The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is a progressive and inclusive police service that values and respects persons of all cultural and religious backgrounds,” Scott Bardsley, spokesman for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, said in an email to CBC News.
Male Sikh members of have been able to wear the turban as part of the RCMP uniform since the early 1990s.
Bardsley said the RCMP will be the third Canadian police force to adopt the hijab policy, behind Toronto and Edmonton police services.
Police services across the UK, Sweden and Norway, and some in US states, have also adopted similar policies.
“While in 1990 there was initial reluctance to allow Sikh RCMP officers to wear the turban as part of their uniforms, Canadians have since embraced the change and we expect that this will be the same with the decision to allow the hijab,” added Amira Elghawaby.
“The Canadian Muslim population is growing and this decision will help reflect the richness and diversity of our country as well as open up career options for minorities.”
Muslims are the fastest growing religious community in Canada, according to the country’s statistical agency, Statistics Canada.
Muslims represent 3.2 percent of Canada’s total population, according to Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey.
A 2016 survey by the Environics showed the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian.