Muslim female soldiers in the Deep South want to wear hijab
Muslim female soldiers in the Deep South have asked Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha for permission to allow them to wear hijab or head scarfs while performing their duties.
In the petition addressed to the prime minister, the Muslim female soldiers who called themselves the southern border Muslim female soldiers’ club claimed that strict adherence to Muslim dress code in the southern border provinces is a must and they might become the target of the opposite side without the hijab.
The group asked the prime minister to instruct the Defence Ministry to allow them to wear the hijab while they are on duty and they assured that wearing the head scarfs would not affect their performance.
One Muslim female soldier who declined to be identified told Isra news agency that she and her colleagues had to discard the hijab while on duty despite the fact that it was against Islamic principle because military service is their career.
Also, she claimed that the ban against them to wear the hijab might be used as a pretext by the militants to attack the government and government officials. She said she knew that some militants had told villagers that the military forced Muslim female soldiers to take off their hijab to expose their hair which is a sin.
“We hope the prime minister will understand our feeling and our obstacle if the people see us as their opposition side and look at us in an unfriendly manner simply because we do not have the head scarfs but they have – that we are different from them,” said the soldier.
Another Muslim woman identified as Ms Tuansainee (surname withheld) told Isra news agency that she once applied to join the police service at the Southern Border Police Operations Centre when she heard that Muslim female policemen assigned to desk jobs can wear hijab at work.
She said that when she actually applied, she was told by a police officer that she had to remove her hijab when sitting the entrance examination. She said she decided to withdraw her application.
Commenting on the hijab issue, Colonel Pramote Prom-in, spokesman of the forward command of ISOC, said he had not seen any complaint from Muslim female soldiers. If there is one, he said his superiors would look into it and might review the regulation on military dress code.
However, a military source doubted the existence of the Muslim female soldiers’ club saying he had never heard of the club before.
But the National Police Office used to issue a directive allowing Muslim female policemen to wear hijab while on duty.
Although there are no regulations or orders issued by the Defence Ministry forbidding Muslim female soldiers from wearing hijab, senior military officers in the Deep South merely follow the military dress code which does not mention hijab – hence the interpretation that when it is not mentioned, it is forbidden.