November 6, 1996 in Nation/World

Muslim Women Troops Can Wear Scarves

Compiled From Wire Services

Reversing a month-old ban, the government reportedly has decided to allow Muslim women in the military to wear traditional head scarves.

Women may wear scarves “as long as it does not affect their official duties,” Deputy Defense Minister Abdullah Fadzil Che Wan was quoted Tuesday by the New Straits Times as saying.

Women will not be forced to wear scarves, he said.

More than half of Malaysia’s 19 million people are Malay Muslims, and Islam is the official religion. Most military personnel are Malays. It could not be determined immediately how many women are in the armed forces.

Under a Sept. 30 order, women in the military were prevented from wearing the traditional Malay headdress, the tudung, which is a scarf that covers the head, ears, hair and shoulders, leaving only the face exposed.

They were required to wear only military caps.

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