Norway drops plan to let police wear headscarf

Says new measures soon to ensure recruitment of minorities


Norwegian Justice Minister Knut Storberget on Friday reversed a decision to allow Muslim women police officers to wear the Islamic head scarf following massive criticism of the ruling.

"We have today decided to not pursue the proposal. This has been a very difficult case," Storberget told a press conference, according to the NTB news agency.

Storberget's comment came just weeks after Norway's centre-left government approved a police decision to allow female officers to wear the Islamic headscarf, or hijab, in a bid to improve recruitment of Muslim officers.

The decision sparked an outcry, especially from the main opposition populist right Progress Party, which decried the "gradual Islamization" of the Scandinavian country.

The police union, which has demanded that force uniforms remain "neutral," also objected.

"We have sounded out the people, we have had in-depth discussions between the parties represented in parliament. This is the background for our decision to halt any further pursuit of the proposal" on allowing police to wear the headscarf, Storberget said.

He added however that "the justice minister and the government will continue with existing measures and will launch new measures to ensure a better recruitment of minorities (to the police). This is very important."