Woman Drops Out of Police Academy After Hijab is Banned


Muslim woman Ismahan Isse leaves Ohio Police Academy in search of a precinct where she can wear her hijab.

Ismahan Isse, a 29-year-old Somali-American women, spent four months in the Columbus, Ohio Police Academy. During that time, she didn’t once wear her hijab, or head scarf. She did, however, don it for her interviews, to which the detective performing the background interview told her she could not wear it during training. In spite of the religious laws in place that allow her freedom to practice, the Columbus police division has a policy that prohibits Muslim women from wearing their head scarves for supposed safety reasons, though primarily to make everyone look the same. While Isse has said that she would prefer to stay in Columbus, she has received many other offers around the area, as well as outside the area. Edmonton, Canada, reached out to her to offer her a position, along with residency. The department had created uniforms that allowed for head scarves, and wished to add a Somali officer to reflect their steadily rising Somali communities. He said, “she really wanted to be a police officer. Why not touch base and see if she is interested in coming to Canada and take a look? She’s a great potential applicant to us.” She has been considering it “strongly”.

The Somali-American Police Association, located in Minneapolis, has the second largest Somali population in the area, and have offered her a position as well. Romin Iqbal, the staff attorney at the Council of American-Islamic Relations in Ohio, wrote a letter to the Mayor Michael B. Coleman and to the executive director of the Community Relations Commissions urging they make changes to their police division policies to allow for religious accommodations. He said that the uniform concerns can be easily addressed by modifying the hijab’s style and colors, adding that “it’s about more than just one woman and the police department.” He aims to begin these discussions with other officials such as those in the Franklin County.

The Mayor has requested the division revise their policy while Bell wishes to know more about what other cities have been doing. He wants to diversify their police force, and “look at all opportunities to employ the best and brightest persons from all backgrounds.”


Follow the Conversation on Twitter