“It is a great victory for Muslim policewomen and others in the protective service, who can now stand up and be counted,” Constable Sharon Roop said.
Justice Margaret Mohammed Friday ruled that the Special Reserve Police (SRP) officer’s constitutional right to freedom of religion was infringed by the denial of her request to wear her headdress.
She added there was no evidence that Roop’s wearing the hijab would affect the efficiency of the police service.
“This is who I am,” Roop said, noting that there were women police officers around the world who were allowed to wear their hijab while on duty.
In her 63-page decision, the judge said the intent of the framers of the Constitution, in shaping the future society of TT, was for an environment where people would be free to observe their religious belief, rituals, practices, and activities in every sphere of their lives.
“The intention of the framers of the Constitution was also for an evolving plural society in Trinidad and Tobago where religious symbols such as the cross, the rosary, raksha sutra, sindoor, and hijab are to be permitted in public places, the workplace and in schools.”
She also dismissed the state’s argument that Roop’s request would open the floodgates for others, pointing out that “religious symbols are already worn by police officers with their uniform.”
In 2016, Turkey allowed female police officers to don the hijab.
The move followed an earlier announcement by Police Scotland which declared hijab an optional part of its uniform to encourage more female Muslims to consider policing as a career option.
Similarly in Canada, the government announced just this week that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police would allow its officers to wear hijab as part of their uniforms, in the hope of boosting the number of female Muslim recruits.