Together we can

Accommodating unheard voices

Story by Jessie Tremmel, Op/Ed Editor

In March the St. Paul Police Department hired Kadra Mohamed. Mohamed, who was born in a refugee camp in Kenya after her family fled Somalia due to civil unrest, is the first Somali-American woman to join the St. Paul Police and the first woman on the force to wear her hijab while working.

The 22-year-old is able to wear her hijab, which is the traditional head covering worn by some Muslim women, due to a custom made headscarf that eliminates any interference with her job as a community liaison. The modified headscarf includes snaps for quick release if someone tried to pull on it in an attack.

While Mohamed has received mixed reactions in St. Paul, Minn., she has gained national attention, with her story appearing in the LA Times.

“I’m a target for those with concerns about safety,” she said she told the LA Times. “I’m a short, black, Muslim, female. Of course I stand out.”

Mohamed joined one of two police department’s that allow the wearing of hijab. With that being said, I would like to give a round of applause to the St. Paul Police Department.

With one of the largest Somali immigrant populations in the United States, St. Paul has created an example for other communities to follow. Preventing women from taking roles in important agencies because of the religion they are or the clothing they wear is wrong, and that is what a ban on hijab in the workplace does. It keeps the voices of women silent.

As a community liaison, Mohamed has created a vital connection between the police force and the Somali community. She said she hopes to become a police officer, even though her mother will not allow a gun in the home, and will not having a problem arresting a Somali man, something that would be unthinkable in the male-dominated culture.

The acceptance of her hijab in the St. Paul Police Department has created opportunities for Mohamed. This achievement brings power to both the Somali community and to women. Finally, the desires of a foreign born woman are being heard and accommodated.