Salma Siddiqui slams hijabi prison guard attire: It is the "uniform" of the Muslim brotherhood and international Islamist movement
"[Salma] Siddiqui said there is no religious requirement to cover one's head - that it is the "uniform" of the Muslim brotherhood and international Islamist movement - and worries it may fuel rising concerns about the "penetration" of Islamist ideology into society."
Criticism, applause for prison guard accommodationsThe Toronto SUN
OTTAWA — Correctional Service of Canada is drawing both criticism and applause for taking steps to accommodate the religious and cultural practices of a female Muslim prison guard — the first ever hired in the country.
The Muslim Canadian Congress called it “apologist” and “politically correct” that CSC is designing a special hijab for wearing inside the men’s federal penitentiary where the recruit will be posted after completing a nine-week training program. MCC vice-president Salma Siddiqui declared it "nonsense" that the employee is permitted to wear long sleeves and gloves to avoid skin-to-skin contact with males and worked out prayer times with the employer.
Siddiqui insisted religious faith should not be a factor on-the-job for any employee who chooses the profession of a correctional officer.
"I don't think there should be any emphasis on Muslim or not," she told QMI Agency. "They are being Canadian and politically correct. We do not have to live with that guilt."
The recruit will wear a hijab designed to come off easily if grabbed by an inmate to gain physical control. Siddiqui said there is no religious requirement to cover one's head - that it is the "uniform" of the Muslim brotherhood and international Islamist movement - and worries it may fuel rising concerns about the "penetration" of Islamist ideology into society.
But Liberal MP Mark Holland sees no problem making certain allowances to accommodate cultural and religious practices as long as institutional security and quality of work are not compromised.
"Wherever possible, you want to see diversity in the workplace and to have a broad range of perspectives represented," he said. "Within the correctional service, that can often be an important part of rehabilitation when you have different people working in prison who will understand different cultural and religious backgrounds. That absolutely can provide great benefit in dealing with different situations that might arise within those prison walls."
Holland said the employee is blazing a new path, and hopes employees in all facets of the public service understand the benefits of a diverse work force.
Nermine Barbouch, executive director of the Canadian Muslim Forum, called the employee "courageous" to accept the job of a correctional officer.
"If both sides are OK and they have reached an agreement, there should not be a problem. She is capable of doing what any other person is doing," she said. "I don't like to look at it as reasonable accommodation or any other accommodation."
CSC formed a working group to figure out ways to ensure the employee's religious and cultural needs were accommodated within the parameters of the overarching requirements for safety and security of institution, staff and inmates, said national spokesman Graham Andrews.
In past, CSC has worked with Sikh employees to develop special turbans suitable for the prison setting. Special allowances have also been made to wear replica kirpans.