Jakarta, hijab for policewomen gets go ahead to joy of extremist opposition
by Mathias Hariyadi
Gen. Haiti, Chief of police, has approved the use of hijab throughout the force. So far it was used only in Aceh, the only province where sharia is law. Satisfaction among members of the pro-Islamic parties. PKS politician: "Apex of a long battle."

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - General Badrotin Haiti, current Chief of  Police pending his official appointment, has given the green light to the controversial provision that allows women police in Indonesia to wear the hijab, the Islamic veil.

The official decision came yesterday and ended years of debate and division between pro-veil Islamic extremist groups and members of civil society, stressing instead the importance of the "secular" character of the police. So far the hijab was worn by women police in Aceh province alone, the only one in which sharia is law in the largest Muslim country in the world.  

Gen. Haiti’s decision has ended a debate that has lasted for years in the country with highs and lows. He has given the green light to the use of hijab, although not yet in effect the commander in chief. In fact, his appointment is still before Parliament, which must give its final approval.

Some  years ago, the police commander of the province of East Java was driven from office because he had “forcibly” imposed the use of the veil on policewomen. Civil society had launched a massive protest campaign, stressing that officials responsible for the safety of all citizens should not be drawn into "political" or "confessional" disputes. And their clothing, activists pointed out "has nothing to do with their duties”.

Today many Islamic extremist groups and radical movements have enthusiastically embraced and welcomed the decision. Almuzzamil Yusuf, a member of the pro-Islamic Justice and Prosperous Party (PKS) speaks of "victory" after a long battle. "It is the culmination of a long battle - says the politician - [...] and we are really pleased with the decision."

Other members of the Islamist front are also celebrating, including Aboe Bakar Al Habsyi who calls for "full support" for  the decision. He also points out that the purchase of veils for policewomen "had already been put in the budget" and approved by Parliament "last year", so the norm "must immediately be fully applied".