30-year-old Zeena Ali will be the first Muslim woman to wear the hijab as a police officer. She even wore it to her graduation from the police academy.
The New Zealand Police has officially integrated the hijab into its uniform. Police officers who wish to wear the head covering will now be issued a hijab as part of their regular uniform, the New Zealand Herald reports. The announcement comes just over a year after the deadly mass shootings that took place at mosques in Christchurch, a city on the country's east coast. A new recruit who enlisted after the terrorist attacks will be the first Muslim woman to wear the police-issued hijab. Zeena Ali, 30, said she feels great to be able to go out and show off the garment as part of her uniform.
Well done NZP for recognising the diverse needs of your staff, We hope to see many countries join New Zealand, the U.K. and others who already provide Hijabs, Turbans and other uniform adaptations for their staff @IAWPPresident @nzpolice https://t.co/AThPCvOqKU— IAWP (@IAWPInfo) November 24, 2020
Ali collaborated with the Royal New Zealand Police College to design the hijab to ensure comfort and function while remaining respectful of Muslim officers’ faith. She tried on several different materials and styles both before and during her training in order to design the perfect head covering. The newly-graduated police officer offered feedback and recommendations for tweaks to the New Zealand Police as well as the Massey Design School. After joining police training following the Christchurch attacks, she has finally graduated from the police academy and will be the first Muslim police officer to wear the hijab. In fact, she even wore it to her graduation.
Constable Zeina Ali has become the first Muslim officer to wear the hijab in #NewZealand. The hijab was included in the approved uniform for women in the police force, as part of the government's efforts to promote inclusivity after the Christchurch attacks.#Sawt_Alhikma pic.twitter.com/EI1ir9TsZD— Sawt Al-Hikma (@SawtAlHikma_EN) November 24, 2020
"It feels great to be able to go out and show the New Zealand Police hijab as part of my uniform," she said in an interview with the New Zealand Herald. "I think that [after] seeing it, more Muslim women will want to join as well." Ali was born in Fiji but immigrated to New Zealand when she was just a child. She said she was proud to represent the Muslim community, and Muslim women in particular, in the country's federal police force. The 30-year-old realized New Zealand needed more women like her in the force after the Christchurch shootings.
She explained, "That's when I realized more Muslim women were needed in the police, to go and support people with things like this. If I had joined the police earlier I would have been down there to help. We need more Muslim women to help in the community. Most of them are too scared to talk to the police and would probably shut the front door if a man turned up to talk to them. If we have more women turning up, a more diverse front line, then we can reduce more crime."
The New Zealand police were also more than happy to include the garment as part of their official police-issued uniform. "We recognize the value different perspectives and experiences bring to making us better at what we do," they affirmed in a statement. "We need people with a range of skills, backgrounds, and experience levels—diversity is essential so that we can effectively serve the needs of New Zealand's communities now and in the future. By reflecting the communities we serve and appreciating different thinking, we aim to achieve better problem-solving and results."
EDITORIAL | The spirit of accommodation has been central to New Zealand’s policymaking: the turban made it to the uniform way back in 2008, four years before Britain, the mother of democracies, accepted a turbaned guardsman at Buckingham Palacehttps://t.co/4tJCJAtSy0— The Telegraph (@ttindia) November 25, 2020