The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes the SANDF’s belated abandonment of its unconstitutional and discriminatory prohibitions on female Muslim members wearing hijabs.
Muslim members of the SANDF, in particular women, should not be discriminated against and placed in a situation where they have to choose between honouring their religious beliefs or serving their country.
This antiquated regulation was bullying Muslim women into choosing between their faith and their right to earn a living as workers. It is a disgrace that the SANDF sought to penalise and threaten the career of Major Fatima Isaacs for simply wearing her traditional Muslim headscarf, the hijab.
It should not have taken a three-year legal case undertaken by Major Isaacs and the Legal Resources Centre to knock some common sense into the heads SANDF bureaucrats. The less said about the shameful silence of the Minister for Defence, the better.
We are nearly twenty (27) years into the democratic dispensation and soon the country will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Constitution. Workers and citizens’ Constitutional Right to freedom of religion and association should not be treated as negotiable.
South Africans rightfully expect better from government and those elected to represent them in the executive and Parliament. We are a modern Constitutional democracy, and we need to start acting like it.
Issued by COSATU
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