Muslim and human rights groups have called on Indonesian National Police chief Gen Timur Pradopo to revoke a 2005 ban on the ‘hijab’ (Islamic headscarf) for women personnel in the police force.
Poengky Indiarti, the executive director of the rights watchdog Imparsial, urged Timur to review the decree to restore justice and religious freedom.
“The opportunity to become a member of the police force should be equal, including for Muslim women who wear the hijab. It’s discrimination if only female members of the corps in Aceh are allowed to wear the garb,” Poengky was quoted as saying by the English daily, The Jakarta Post, Monday.
A decision by the then National Police chief Gen Da’i Bachtiar in 2005 required all members of the corps to wear only the official uniform and prohibited women personnel from wearing the hijab.
Violating the ban subjected the personnel to dismissal. However, female personnel of the police force in Aceh are excluded from the regulation because Aceh’s 2001 Syariah-inspired bylaws oblige all women to cover their hair.
Muslim scholar Azyumardi Azra said the police would be upholding Indonesia’s motto of ‘Bhinneka Tunggal Ika’ (Unity in Diversity) by lifting the ban the on hijab.
Amidhan Shaberah of the Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI) said the hijab ban showed that the police were a “repressive institution” and the MUI was expected to deliberate the issue in an internal meeting soon.
The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and the Indonesian Police Watch (IPW) also rejected the ban.
“In Indonesia, many institutions have allowed their employees to wear the hijab. I urge policewomen to look for support from the House of Representatives’ Commission III on Legal Affairs and the Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Ministry for the abolition of the ban,” IPW chairman Neta S. Pane said.
Indonesian Police spokesman Senior Commissioner Agus Rianto said the protests would not influence the police to change their policy and they would continue to comply with the decree until it was amended.