- Associated Press - Saturday, March 1, 2014

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - The St. Paul Police Department is now allowing employees to wear a police-issued hijab headscarf, according to an announcement Saturday.

St. Paul Police Chief Thomas Smith said he knows of only one other department in Washington, D.C., that allows the hijab in the United States, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press (http://bit.ly/1gJtpFc).

Cities in Canada and Great Britain allow Muslim officers to wear police-issued hijabs while in uniform.

The St. Paul announcement comes in tandem with the recent hiring of their first Somali woman, Kadra Mohamed. She serves as a Community Liaison Officer.

Although the Twin Cities has the nation’s largest Somali-American population, Garaad Sahal was St. Paul’s first and remains the only sworn Somali-American police officer, joining in late 2012.

The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations praised Saturday’s announcement in a news release.

“We congratulate Chief Smith and the St. Paul Police Department for creating a welcoming, inclusive environment for Muslim employees,” Executive Director Lori Saroya said. “This decision will enable more Muslim women to consider serving their community through a career in law enforcement.”

Muslim women who wear the hijab believe it’s their religious obligation and asking them to remove it is akin to asking them to remove a shirt or other piece of clothing, Saroya said in the news release.

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Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com