Is the Danish army right to ban the headscarf for Muslim women on duty?

The Danish Home Guard, a home defence corps of thousands of volunteer soldiers, has become embroiled in a dispute about Muslim headscarves after it allowed a Maria Mawla , a Muslim woman of Lebanese origins to complete a training course wearing the Hijab.

This lead to major controversy after an article about Ms.Mawla was published on eth Home Guard website sparking a strong reaction form the right wing Danish People’s Party.

In a Parliament session the Danish People’s party demanded the Home Guard either enforce the uniform code or tell Ms Mawla to find another job.

Soren Gade, the Defence Minister of Denmark, has informed Parliament that Muslim women working in the Danish armed forces will not be allowed to wear their traditional headscarves anymore while on duty.

Mr. Gade said, “I find wearing for example a headscarf, to be incompatible with a military uniform. Both in the regular defence forces and the Home Guard.”

However Maria Mawla said “I feel it’s really discriminating, and it makes me feel like a bad citizen.” she told a Danish newspaper.

Is the Danish army right to ban the headscarf for Muslim women on duty?

15 Responses to “Is the Danish army right to ban the headscarf for Muslim women on duty?”

  1. 1 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 11, 2009 at 12:57

    Definitely. I think the wearing of clearly religious symbols in an army that has a unifom and represents all citizens isn,t a right precedent to set. It is not practical because the headscarf can be used as a weapon against the wearer if they are caught in hand to hand combat as well as prove to be an impediment if warfare is in close quarters where it can become snagged on objects during combat.

  2. August 11, 2009 at 13:25

    Military dress codes are fairly strict in application,that is why the dress is called a uniform.Defence secretary is correct in his ban.If Maria Mawla,was allowed to wear a head scarf whilst on duty, it would totally defeat the dress code. Perhaps the next soldier in the line may wish to wear carpet slippers and not boots. He/She would be able to claim discrimination if not allowed. If she cannot adhere to military codes,she should not be a soldier.

  3. 4 Tom K in Mpls
    August 11, 2009 at 13:35

    It is essential for logistical, organizational and morale reasons to maintain conformity in any organized military. It is obvious that some PC fool tried to be accommodating and made a big mistake. If it was not a volunteer organization, it would be a human rights issue. But this is nothing more than well established and practical rules not being properly enforced from the beginning.

  4. 5 RightPaddock
    August 11, 2009 at 14:27

    If you support the ban, then that means all Sikh’s in the British army will end up before a court-martial. I cannot imagine that they would give up their religious dress code, nor leave the army meekly – that’s long hair hidden in a tightly tied black scarf or a turban, steel bracelet, dagger, beard etc.

    I am sick of one standard being applied to women and another being applied to men, and I’m a man. This obsession men have with the way women dress is a control/power trip – just like rape!

    • 6 Tom K in Mpls
      August 11, 2009 at 16:09

      There are some unit based exceptions found around the world. These are special units that earn the right to an exception that is held as a new standard for the unit, not for the individual. The Gurkha and the US 82nd Airborne come to mind.

    • 7 NSC London
      August 12, 2009 at 16:49

      Uh yeah. The hijab is an excellent example of Islam’s obsession with women, and since you jumped to the whole rape connection you’ve only saved me time in posting!

  5. 8 Suresh in New Jersey
    August 11, 2009 at 17:05

    Sikhs in certain units are not allowed to have turbans or beards. Certain Indian units such as Garud Force (the IAF’s special forces) do not allow this. Other regiments have different rules.

    Do militaries have a uniform ? Yes. But each regiment makes it’s own modifications depending on their service conditions. Maria can lay claim to a legitimate exception made by the regiment after the command has approved it. If her commanding officers do not approve, the matter ends there.

    Dragging this through the media brings her regiment a bad name. No soldier of conscience permits this. If she does not wish to serve, she ought to resign her commission.

    • 9 RightPaddock
      August 12, 2009 at 08:43

      @Suresh, wrote”Sikhs in certain units are not allowed to have turbans or beards”

      How many such units have any Sikhs,
      Are they allowed to wear a patka
      Do they have to cut their hair
      Would the Sikh community regard someone who cut their hair and did not wear the patka or turban as a “true followers” of Guru Gobind Singh anyway.

  6. 10 T
    August 11, 2009 at 20:28

    Yes they are. In the military, uniformity is one key to a succesful fighting force. If you allow this, then everyone else gets a religious symbol as well? If you don’t like it, find another job and practice your faith there.

  7. 11 James Ian
    August 12, 2009 at 06:23

    Uniform= unchanging, consistant, resembling others, unvarying in design.
    I think that says it all. If it’s not something worn by the whole group then it should not be worn, no matter the religious significance.
    Sounds to me like someone just wants to complain and be difficult.

  8. 12 scmehta
    August 12, 2009 at 14:15

    Haven’t you heard “do in Rome as the Romans do” ? Or get out of there, if not invited. There’s got to be a limit for insolence and insubordination; you cannot ask an institution or the laws to change, just to suit your convenience or personal opinion; absolutely not, especially when you are living in a foreign country.

  9. 13 NSC London
    August 12, 2009 at 16:51

    Once again, bravo for Denmark. They are leading the way in Europe in terms of not backing down in fear when confronted with the grave Muslim issues facing the country. I wish the UK would take a page out of Denmark’s book instead of bowing and scraping to every absurd demand made of our government by this “religion of peace.”

  10. 14 Dennis Junior
    August 12, 2009 at 17:05

    …..Is the Danish army right to ban the headscarf for Muslim women on duty? …..

    Yes, the Danish army is right and justify to ban headscarfs for Muslim Ladies…Because, if they allowed for one than others will want to wear their religious items….

    =Dennis Junior=

  11. August 13, 2009 at 12:47

    A muslim woman wears a hijab because she thinks that NOT wearing it is a sin towards God. She’s NOT trying to spite non-muslims around her with a “religious symbol”. She does NOT wear it out of simple pride.

    The hijab is NOT a religious “symbol”. it’s a religious “requirement”.

    Can you make the distinction?

    And to NSC London, why do you automatically assume that this muslim woman is living in a “foreign” country? what if a white Danish lady converts to Islam and wishes to wear her Hijab and also join the army? and these do exist.

    I personally don’t think the army is a suitable career to anyone who’s required to dress in a specific fashion by their religion or any other source.

    But this resistance to so-called “Islamic Symbolism” is being used to restrict muslims from dressing however they like in Colleges in Turkey and France, and recently even to be “welcome” in the country as far as France views the Burka for example.

    It’s blatant Islamophobia!

    – 36yo Male, Kuwait

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