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Jens Dresling
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Maria Mawla, who has been told to shed her headscarf if she wants to continue as a soldier in the Home Guard.

News in English
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Defence Minister: Headscarves out

Denmark’s defence minister says military uniforms and headscarves are incompatible.

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Denmark’s Defence Minister Søren Gade has told Parliament that Muslim women in the armed forces are not to be allowed to wear headscarves as part of their uniform.

“I find wearing for example a headscarf, to be incompatible with a military uniform. Both in the regular defence forces and the Home Guard,” Gade says in a written answer to a parliamentary question from Unity List MP Per Clausen.

Clausen asked the minister whether Muslim women are to be excluded from the Home Guard if they wear a headscarf.

Uniforms
The minister’s response comes following a week of controversy involving a Home Guard soldier Maria Mawla, who was allowed to wear a headscarf under her helmet when in uniform. The Home Guard even went as far as portraying its liberal stance on its website.

But the Danish People’s Party, which is the minority Liberal-Conservative government’s safety net in Parliament, reacted strongly to the disclosure, resulting in the Home Guard text being removed and Mawla being told that she was no longer welcome in the Home Guard if she continued to wear a headscarf.

Safety
Gade says military uniforms have a distinct purpose.

“Uniforms for military personnel ensure, among other things, uniformity so that it is possible to recognize members of the armed forces and distinguish them from the civilian population. The uniform is also designed in such a way that it provides the individual soldier with the maximum security possible. That is why it is not possible to show the same flexibility for employees serving in military functions as that proffered to their civilian colleagues,” Gade writes.

Edited by Julian Isherwood

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