While the western world continues debating whether it is acceptable for women in society to completely cover their face for religious reasons, Sweden’s socialist government has announced that members of its police force, military and fire service will soon be wearing the Islamic hijab.
In 2011, Iman Aldebe created a stir by designing the first uniform hijab for the Swedish police force. The headdress was accepted despite the critical reaction, as many argued that the police should not send religious messages.
Now, the 32-year-old Jordanian-Swedish designer took a further step forward and has designed uniform Islamic veils to be worn by military personnel and firefighters, both of which turned out to be very optimistic about the idea, according to the Swedish newspaper Göteborgs-Posten.
“I’ve been in dialogue with them, as the veils must not pose any fire risks and the like. But they are very positive about this,” Iman Aldebe told Göteborgs-Posten.
According to Aldebe, many were upset when she launched the police uniform veil back in 2011, with critics accusing her of trying to Islamize Sweden or forcing women to wear religious garments. By Adlebe’s own admission, however, it is a question of helping Muslim women getting introduced into Swedish society, becoming self-sufficient and alleviating their dependence on their Muslim spouses.
I want to build bridges, so that nobody is left outside society or living off the state, which many Muslim women are accused of,” Aldebe told the Swedish news outlet Nyheter24. “For me, Sweden stands for democracy and equality. I grew up in Sweden with that. To first say that they live off the state and then state that they are unwanted in these state professions would simply be wrong,” she added.
— Iman Aldebe (@ImanAldebe) October 8, 2017
Additionally, Aldebe believes that the change of fashion may also contribute to a “more positive” image of Muslim women in society. A veil-clad policewoman produces an air of authority, she claimed. While Aldebe admitted that Islamic garments might be perceived as a strong statement, she also claimed that for hijab-wearers, it’s about being like any other woman in Swedish society.
— Iman Aldebe (@ImanAldebe) October 7, 2017
In neighboring Norway, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said she personally would never employ a person wearing an Islamic face veil, whereas Finance Minister and Progress Party leader Siv Jensen suggested that Muslim women wore face-covering garments simply to provoke a reaction.