South Africa: Muslim Women Officers in The Armed Forces Can Now Wear Headscarves While in Uniform

Under a rules change, Muslim women officers in the South African armed forces will be able to wear headscarves while in uniform, a public interest law organization has announced.

The change came after the Legal Resource Center (LRC) defended Maj. Fatima Isaacs in 2019 from charges over wearing a Muslim headscarf under her military beret.

Isaacs was working as a forensic pathologist at a military hospital in Cape Town where she wore the headscarf for years, despite orders to remove it.

The center said it had dropped the matter as South Africa’s armed forces policy “no longer discriminates against Muslim women in the military,” it said on Twitter late Wednesday.

The group said military prosecutors have withdrawn all charges against Isaacs, who is now allowed to wear a tight headscarf that does not cover her ears and is plain in color.

There was outrage in the South African Muslim community three years ago when the military charged Isaacs over wearing her headscarf.

“It is inconceivable that the South African National Defense Force would deny an employee the right to pursue her religious freedom to wear a headscarf,” the chief of the Royal House of Mandela said at the time, condemning the incident.

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