SINGAPORE, Mar 14 (Campus Eye) – Debates concerning the ban on the hijab for Muslim women wearing uniforms in the civil service continue between the Singapore government and lobbyists, after having been reignited in late 2013.
This issue resurfaced following the creation of the Singapore Hijab Movement, a Facebook group that amassed more than 20,000 likes within weeks of being set up. The group ceased operations on Nov. 14, 2013.
Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs, Yaacob Ibrahim, said in a statement released on his Facebook page following closed-door discussions in November 2013 with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong that Malay ministers from the People’s Action Party and civil society leaders in the Malay-Muslim community must “manage and balance the diverse needs of our multi-racial and multi-religious society,” and that “accommodation and compromise by all parties” is necessary.
Lobbyists for the cause are dissatisfied with this seemingly ambivalent government response.
One such reaction came from Walid J. Abdullah, a tutor in National University of Singapore (NUS) Political Science department and active participant in the ongoing debate.
“One of the things we are afraid of is dialogue and debate about religion in Singapore. On all sides, there needs to be more openness, more engagement,” he said.
“Have discussions, for example, with the nurses who want to wear the hijab,” Walid added. “Get to know them, get to know what their intentions are.”
This sentiment was echoed by NUS Nursing undergraduate Afiqah Binte Kamel, who started the Singapore Nursing Hijab Movement aimed at representing nurses and the specific issues surrounding wearing the hijab in nursing.
Written by Sharifah Nursyafiqah