Muslim police allowed to trade helmet for turban

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

LONDON -- Muslim police officers in London will be allowed to wear turbans instead of "bobby" helmets, a change announced Monday.

The Association of Muslim Police had requested the change and the city's Metropolitan Police agreed, partly to encourage more Muslims to join the force.

"I also hope that it encourages all minority groups to believe that the Met is an employer of choice," said Bernared Hogan-Howe, an assistant commissioner.

A spokesman for the force -- Britain's largest -- said Muslims account for less than 2 percent of London's 28,000 officers. The force operates in most of the city of 8 million people.

Sikh police in London have been allowed to wear turbans instead of the traditional round helmet for several years. Last year, female Muslim officers were told they could wear headscarves on duty.

Mohammad Mahroof, secretary general of the Association of Muslim Police, praised the decision.

"These turbans are a great tradition of our prophet (Mohammed), and striving to adhere to his traditions is an important part of Muslim life," Mahroof said. "The Met has recognized this importance and the move should further strengthen its efforts to reflect the community it serves."

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