Top cop: No headscarves with Dutch police uniforms

National Police chief Erik Akerboom decided to maintain the ban on headscarves with police uniforms for the time being. He is shocked by the uproar caused by Amsterdam police chief Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg suggesting that headscarves be allowed in an effort to boost diversity in the police, the National Police chief wrote in an internal memo, AD reports.

"At the moment I find that there is clearly no support for this idea. The discussion polarizes the ranks inside and outside the police", Akerboom said in the memo. He called the reactions to Aalbersberg's suggestion "unquestionably extensive, emotional and sometimes crossing a line". He added that the current discussion is "too little about the core of the matter". "The core is a diverse corps consisting of people who are allowed to be different."

According to Akerboom, the discussion about the headscarf or hijab completely derailed. "I understand that, because it is a sensitive subject, on which opinions differ widely. But sometimes, also in our corps, the standards of tolerance and decency are exceeded", Akerboom said. "There is no place for discrimination and racism in our corps. A respectful debate belongs with our role in society, also about difficult matters."

Akerboom emphasized that while he is maintaining the headscarf ban with police uniforms, he is completely in favor of more diversity in the police. "Our society is changing significantly in terms of composition. We have to change along to maintain our legitimacy and trust. We have a lot to lose", he wrote. "Not all citizens recognize themselves in the police, especially in the big cities. While we are there for the whole society, regardless of origin, religion, race or gender. For that we need a wider craftsmanship."