OTTAWA, Aug. 24 (UPI) -- Muslim female officers in Canada's national police force can wear traditional headscarves with their uniforms, the nation's public safety ministry said Wednesday.
A spokesman for the ministry confirmed that government leaders decided to allow the unique Islamic dress in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
"The commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police recently approved this addition to the uniform to allow female members of the Muslim faith to wear a hijab if they so choose," Public Safety Canada spokesman Scott Bardsley told Global News Wednesday. "This is intended to better reflect the diversity in our communities and encourage more Muslim women to consider the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as a career option."
The move, officials say, is intended to welcome all cultures and encourage Muslim women to join the RCMP.
"Our police forces need to reflect the populations they serve," National Council of Canadian Muslims spokeswoman Amira Elghawaby said. "So it's quite natural they would try to recruit from more women, including women who decide to wear the hijab."
About 20 percent of the RCMP's 20,000-member force are women, the agency found in 2012.
The official uniform of the mounted police force goes back to the 19th century and features a red coat, leather boots and a wide-brimmed felt hat.
Three types of hijabs were tested last month before one was approved by the RCMP.
Police forces in Toronto and Edmonton have adopted similar policies, along with multiple departments in the United States.