The Norwegian government has rejected a proposal to allow female police officers to wear hijab (Muslim headscarf) while on duty.
“The government…decided that religious symbols would not be allowed to be used in connection with police uniforms,” Culture Minister Hadia Tajik told a press conference cited by The New Age.
A government-appointed commission has proposed to allow female police officers and judges to wear hijab while on duty.
“The commission has had a broad mandate,” said Tajik, the first Muslim minister in the Norwegian history.
“They have raised the issue of religious symbols and uniforms.”
The commission head Sturla Stalsett has earlier said that the entire 15-member panel believed that the government should allow the hijab to be worn by Muslim women police officers.
But the minister said that a similar proposal to allow hijab for policewoman was rejected by the government in 2009.
She insisted that she did not envision a change “in the foreseeable future.”
The issue of allowing police officers to wear hijab first rose in 2008 after a Muslim woman asked to wear the headscarf during police training.
In 2009, the Norwegian government announced plans to allow police women to don the hijab.
But the ruling coalition quickly backtracked over opposition from the far-right Progress Party.
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.
Hijab has been in the eye of storm since France banned the headscarf in public places in 2004.
Since then, several European countries have followed suit.
Several European countries, including Sweden and Britain, already allow police officers to wear hijab.
The Muslim community in Norway is estimated at 150,000 out of the country’s 4.5 million population.
The majority of Muslims are of Pakistan, Somali, Iraqi and Moroccan backgrounds.
There are nearly 90 Muslim organizations and Islamic centers across Norway.