Muslim major to face disciplinary action for refusing to discard headscarf

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A SANDF parade during the inauguration of ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa as head of state of the Republic of South Africa at Loftus Stadium on May 25, 2019 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Gallo Images/Lefty Shivambu)
A SANDF parade during the inauguration of ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa as head of state of the Republic of South Africa at Loftus Stadium on May 25, 2019 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Gallo Images/Lefty Shivambu)

A Muslim member of the SANDF is expected to face a hearing in a military court in Cape Town on Tuesday because of her refusal to not wear her headscarf.

The major, who has been a member of the armed forces for the past 10 years, works as a clinical forensic pathologist at 2 Military Hospital in Wynberg.

Her adviser, Nazeema Mohamed, said the major's scarf was worn under her beret and "does not even cover her ears".

It did not obstruct any insignia or military rankings, Mohamed explained. For the past decade, none of the officers she reported to took exception to it.

Mohamed said the action smacked of Islamophobia, sexism and a poor attitude toward women.

The disciplinary action against the major was "shocking", as such steps would not be taken even in conservative countries like the US, she charged.

SANDF spokesperson Mafi Mgobhozi was not immediately available to comment on the matter.

Mohamed said should the SANDF proceed with charges against the major, they would take the matter to court as the action against her was discriminatory.

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