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Government halts hijab initiative
by Nina Berglund
Norway's government minister in charge of culture, Hadia Tajik, has been handed a report by a commission recommending that police and judges in Norway be allowed to use religious head coverings, such as a hijab or turban. Tajik immediately made it clear the government would not change its position that currently bans such religious expression.
The 15-member commission, headed by Pastor Sturla Stålsett who also heads the humanitarian group Kirkens bymisjon, was formed by Tajik's predecessor Anniken Huitfeldt in 2010 to make proposals aimed at protecting religious freedom. Tajik noted the commission has "a broad mandate" and therefore took up the issue of using religious symbols in combination with uniforms. It also tackled such issues as circumcision and the legality of church weddings.
"The fact is that the government handled (the head covering) issue in 2009 and took a stand: It is not allowed to use religious symbols in connection with a police uniform," Tajik said at a press conference Monday. She noted that the hijab issue was also discussed at the Labour Party's annual national meeting in 2011: "The government's standpoint was confirmed and I can't see that we're going to change it in the near future."
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