More Muslim women would join the workforce if the Government issued a directive clarifying that the hijab headscarf could be worn at work, Imam Mohammed Elsadi said.

The public is generally very tolerant of Islamic dress

“Some ladies who wear the hijab do not apply for jobs because they worry they will be forced to remove it,” Mr Elsadi said.

The Imam was recently speaking to Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi on the topic of wearing the hijab at work.

He told The Times when contacted that he would like the Government to clearly state women were allowed to wear it in both the public and private sector.

Two Muslim women working in non-medical jobs in Malta’s health sector had been forced to remove the hijab, he said. He also knew Muslim women teaching in Government schools who did not wear the garment at work.

“I don’t know if this is because they are forbidden to wear it, whether they remove it out of fear or whether they choose not to wear it,” he said.

Asked if he would like the directive to include the right to wear the niqab (face covering) at work, Mr Elsadi said he was focusing only on the hijab.

He added that Maltese authorities and the public were generally very tolerant of Islamic dress.

“We appreciate very much their attitude towards Muslim women,” he said.

pcooke@timesofmalta.com

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