South Africa: Outrage as officer charged over headscarf

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (Bernama) – South Africans have expressed outrage after the army took disciplinary action against a senior female officer for wearing a Muslim headscarf under her military beret, Anadolu Agency reported.

Major Fatima Isaacs, 47, was charged in a military court in Cape Town on Tuesday for disobeying orders not to wear the hijab while in uniform.

“We have written to the Minister of Defence raising both our concern and objection to this matter. We believe it’s unconstitutional. It’s contrary to both the spirit and letter of our constitution,” Chairman of the South African Muslim Network (SAMNET) Faisal Suliman told Anadolu Agency on Thursday.

Suliman said he believes disciplinary action against Fatima hinders the development of a multi-plural society.

“We believe the headscarf does not interfere with the uniform nor the abilities of Major Fatima or any other person,” he said.

He also urged the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to make necessary amendments to its dress code to accommodate all faith groups.

Fatima has been working as a forensic pathologist at a military hospital in Cape Town, where she has worn the headscarf for years, despite orders to remove it.