South African army drops charges against hijab-wearing officer
JOHANESBERG: The South African army on Wednesday dropped charges against an officer who had been indicted for wearing a Muslim headscarf under her military beret, lawyers said.
Major Fatima Isaacs was criminally charged in June 2018 with wilful defiance and failing to obey a lawful instruction after her superior asked her to remove the hijab when wearing her uniform.
But at a military court at the Castle of Good Hope near Cape Town, the army withdrew all charges.
It said it would allow her to wear a hijab provided it is “a tight headscarf that does not cover her ears, and must be plain in colour.”
“The withdrawal of charges is subject to her compliance with certain restrictions relating to the wearing of the headscarf,” the officer’s lawyer, Amy-Leigh Payne, of the Legal Resource Centre told AFP.
Isaacs has served in the army for the past 10 years where she works as a clinical forensic pathologist.
“While there is some relief that the criminal charges have been withdrawn, this withdrawal does not address the unconstitutional religious dress policy,” said Payne.
“In fact, the policy remains in force”.