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Workers' Party demands lifting of hijab ban in Singapore
Friday November 8, 2013 1:00 AM, Agencies

Singapore's Workers' Party (WP) Thursday urged politicians to revisit the issue of hijab ban in public and to begin dialogue on allowing the Muslim headscarf with uniformed professions.

"WP believes that a workable consensus is best achieved through public dialogue within the Muslim community, among our communities, and with the government elected by the people," Muhammad Faisal Abdul Manap, Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC, told Bernama on Thursday.

"The discussions should be held with an open mind, and include the input of the heads of uniformed professions on the feasibility of accommodating the wearing of the hijab in their organizations, subject to considerations such as operational exigencies."

Hijab has been banned for nurses in Singapore.

The issue of ending hijab ban has been first raised at a forum on race in September, when a polytechnic lecturer asked why nurses were barred from wearing the Muslim headscarf.

The issue sparked a debate on whether front-line officers should be allowed to do hijab.

"This augurs well for positive discussions between the community, the government and the uniformed services going forward. We urge that Singaporeans be guided by a spirit of mutual understanding and support in these discussions, so as to preserve and strengthen cohesion in our society," he added.

He said the party noted the overwhelmingly rational response of the Muslim community in voicing their views and concerns over the hijab discussion so far.

The new attitude towards hijab appeared over the past years, with Singaporeans growing accustomed to working Muslim women who chose to don the hijab.

Over the past years, the Muslim women headcarf was turning into a regular scene in government offices, private hospitals, schools and even as participants at National Day parades.

Therefore, WP recognized the genuine desire and aspirations of Muslim Singaporeans who sought a change in government policy to allow the wearing of the hijab in the public sector's uniformed professions.

Muslims in Singapore are estimated between 450,000 to 500,000, making around 14 to 15 percent of the population.

Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one's affiliations.

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