Headscarf, kippah ban for enforcers "stigmatizing", "ineffective": Human Rights Institute
Justice Minister Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius's intention to ban enforcement officers from wearing religious symbols like a headscarf, kippah, or cross is stigmatizing and ineffective in guaranteeing their neutrality. That is the opinion of the Institute for Human Rights. "Assess neutrality and impartiality of enforcers by their behavior and actions, not by them wearing a religious symbol or clothing."
Yeşilgöz-Zegerius is working on a guideline for the clothing enforcement officers can wear in service. As with the police, she believes that their uniform should be neutral. A motion by the PVV about this was adopted last December. Officers on duty are already not allowed to wear expressions of religion in their uniforms.
According to the Institute, Yeşilgöz-Zegerius seems to be mainly afraid that religious symbols will damage enforcers' authority. She would also have doubts about how citizens would respond to such statements. But the Institute does not think it is a good guideline. "Behind those public reactions is the discriminatory assumption that if you show that you are religious, you cannot act neutrally and impartially."
The Institute warns that the new directive will particularly victimize women who see wearing a headscarf as a religious obligation. "If neutrality is interpreted in such a way that religious clothing is not allowed, it excludes them from functions that involve wearing a uniform. A large group of women is harmed in their social participation and economic independence."
It is not yet clear what the Minister's directive will look like. Yeşilgöz-Zegerius is still in talks with municipalities about it. In November last year, the city council in Utrecht adopted a motion that enforcers should be allowed to wear religious symbols. According to the Institute, customization can offer a solution. "Other countries have found a solution by, for example, designing a headscarf that matches the uniform."
Reporting by ANP.