Donna, 26, Sweden's first police recruit in hijab
Rebecca Martin · 6 Dec 2011, 15:14
Published: 06 Dec 2011 15:14 GMT+01:00
- 'Sweden made me re-think affirmative action' (23 Nov 11)
- Men sue Swedish police for sexual discrimination (18 Nov 11)
- Swedish cops march in low-wage protest (05 Oct 11)
”If anything it is a reflection of the multicultural Sweden we live in today,” Eljammal told The Local.
It has only been five years since the ban on police recruits wearing a veil, a kippa or a turban as part of their regular uniform, was lifted.
Although the decision came some years ago, the matter has been controversial in Sweden since then and so far no woman wearing a traditional Muslim veil had attended Sweden's police academy. '
However, Donna Eljammal has known since she was a little girl that she wanted to be a police officer.
”I like working with people, helping people, and to not do exactly the same thing everyday. I always knew it would fit my personality,” she said.
”And it shows the public another side of women choosing to wear the veil, that we are not oppressed but can be strong and independent women.”
Before being accepted into the police academy, Eljammal worked for the Swedish Prison and Probation Service (Kriminalvården).
Wearing a veil never constituted a problem there either, and she always felt she was well treated and respected by the other members of staff.
Eljammal thinks that it is an asset in all professions today to have staff with different cultural and religious backgrounds.
”The veil shows clearly that I have first hand knowledge of a different aspect of Swedish society,” she said.
And at the police, they welcome having recruits with different backgrounds representing the variety of Swedish contemporary society.
”We're living in a modern and multi-cultural society and it goes without saying that we must recognize the fundamental rights that exists therein. And freedom of religion is one of them,” Kalle Wallin of the National Police Board (Rikspolisstyrelsen) said to daily Expressen.
According to Wallin, there are currently no restrictions on headgear of a religious kind among recruits.
Hwever, he couldn't answer whether they would allow something as concealing as a burka on a recruit.
”The day we are faced with that question we will have to assess if we will allow it or not,” said Wallin to the paper.
Eljammal knew that she would receive a lot of attention as Sweden's first veiled police recruit.
”Sweden's first ever female police recruit received a lot of attention as well. It's just because it is the very first time,” she said.
However, she had not expected all the attention to come so early, during her first term at the police academy.
”It places a huge responsibility on me to really set an example and be a role model to others,” she told The Local.