Hijab-wearing policewomen cause stir in Lebanon Authorities weighing up action

BEIRUT, March 23, (AFP): Lebanese authorities are weighing up what action to take after a group of newly recruited policewomen showed up for training wearing the hijab, a security official said on Friday.
The policewomen, numbering nearly 40 and all reportedly Shiite Muslims, were among hundreds who sat for an exam to join the Internal Security Forces earlier this year.
But when they turned up for their first training exercise this week, they wore the hijab, an Islamic headscarf, which goes against the military’s code of conduct, the security official told AFP.
A government official said several of the policewomen had agreed to remove the garment, but about 20 refused and did not take part in the training session.
“According to the military code of conduct, whether it be for the police, army or general security, all religious symbols are not allowed,” said the security official who requested anonymity.
“Any symbols linked to a community or religion are banned, whether it be a cross, a veil or any other symbol,” he added. “We are simply applying the law.”
The official said the matter would probably be resolved by cabinet ministers.
Lebanon, a multi-confessional country of four million, is considered among the most liberal in the Arab world.

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