SANDF accused of violating hijab-wearing major's rights

Freedom of Religion SA says the South African Defence Force (SANDF) has a duty to accommodate the expression of religious beliefs and that its refusal to allow one of its majors to wear her hijab at work may well be a violation of her rights.

Major Fatima Isaacs is set to face a disciplinary hearing in August, for refusing to take off her headscarf.

According to reports, she has been a member of the armed forces for 10 years and works as a clinical forensic pathologist.

Freedom of Religion SA's legal adviser Daniela Ellerbeck says section 15.2 of the Constitution specifically allows for religious observances at state institutions and state-aided institutions.

One would say that the SANDF as a state institution, as long as the major's head scarf is not imposing an undue burden on it or hindering her work performance, they would have a duty to accommodate her religious beliefs.

Daniela Ellerbeck, Legal adviser - Freedom of Religion SA

In light of section 15 protecting religious freedom, our Constitution is not for a sanitised secular space, it is for a celebration of diversity and for people to feel free to express their religions and cultures in public spaces.

Daniela Ellerbeck, Legal adviser - Freedom of Religion SA

Click on the link below to hear more from Ellerbeck...


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