South Africa’s army allows hijab for Muslim women

Army says it has amended its dress policy to allow Muslim women to wear headscarves as part of their uniform.

The South African Defence Force agreed to amend its policy this week and allow all Muslim women to cover their heads while on duty [Marco Longari/AFP]
The South African Defence Force agreed to amend its policy this week and allow all Muslim women to cover their heads while on duty [Marco Longari/AFP]

The South African military has amended its dress policy to allow Muslim women to wear headscarves as part of their uniform, an army spokesperson said on Thursday.

In January last year, a military court dropped charges against an officer who had been indicted for wearing a hijab under her military beret.

Major Fatima Isaacs had been criminally charged in June 2018 with willful defiance and failing to obey lawful instructions after her superior asked her to remove her headscarf when in uniform.

A military court at the Castle of Good Hope near Cape Town withdrew all charges in January 2020, making an exception for Isaacs to wear a tight black wrap on her head on duty as long as it did not cover her ears.

But the military did not amend its dress policy, prompting Isaacs to mount a challenge in South Africa’s equality court over regulations restricting religious wear.

The South African Defence Force (SANDF) eventually agreed to amend its policy this week and allow all Muslim women to cover their heads while on duty.

“The SANDF dress regulation was updated to allow the wearing of headscarves by Muslim (women) according to stipulations in the dress regulations,” spokesman Mafi Mgobozi told the AFP news agency on Thursday.

The South Africa-based Legal Resources Centre, which represented Isaacs, welcomed the decision via Twitter on Wednesday and said it was withdrawing the equality court case.

Source: AFP

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