Minister Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius of Justice and Security decided to officially ban police officers in uniform from wearing expressions of religion, like headscarves, crosses, and kippahs. She hopes that putting the ban in the new dress code will end the discussions on the matter, Yeşilgöz said to the Telegraaf.
Yeşilgöz is explicitly adding “religious neutrality” to the police’s dress code. “With this regulation, there will be clarity about the neutrality of the uniform,” she said. “That gives peace, and then we can put the discussion about it behind us.”
The new dress code for uniformed officers applies to all expressions of religious belief. If there are doubts, it is up to the police themselves to decide.
Yeşilgöz is responding to a parliamentary majority asking for clarity about the neutrality of the police uniform. “The word uniform says it all: it should always be the same with a police officer on the street,’ she said. “I don’t think a visible expression of religion or belief is appropriate for officers in uniform. These people represent the government and are mandated to use force if necessary.”
According to the VVD Minister, this is not discrimination. “That really falls short of what this is really about: neutrality,” she said. “It is really separate from discrimination. The police is an inclusive organization that is working hard to make it even more inclusive. But I think that neutrality is really important. These are people with a monopoly on violence. Moreover, there are more professions with dress requirements.”
People wearing headscarves are still welcome at the police, Yeşilgöz said. “But in different places. In contact with the public, you have to look neutral so that the people facing them always see the same uniform.”
She’d like to see the same rules apply to municipal enforcement officers. “But they don’t fall under me.”