More cases of discrimination against Muslim women in the South African military are now beginning to surface, in the wake of Major Fatima Isaacs’s struggle to wear her headscarf. That’s according to her advisor Nazeema Mohamed, who has taken on the case of the forensic pathologist, who has waged a ten-year battle to wear her scarf freely. Isaacs was formally charged in a military court for “disobeying a lawful command” on Tuesday after she refused to remove her headscarf. Isaacs wears a black headscarf neatly tucked under her beret, so it is not visible and does not obstruct any military rankings or insignia.
The issue has sparked widespread anger, with many slamming the army’s strict dress regulations as outdated. Many believe the SANDF is violating Isaac’s right to religious freedom, as enshrined the Constitution.
“It’s like Major Fatima is singlehandedly fighting the entire issue for all women and men who struggle with issues of discrimination. Yesterday, I received several complaints from other Muslim women requesting support. It’s definitely not just Fatima struggling with issues in the SANDF,” said Mohamed.
Following a meeting at the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), it was decided that the ulema body would assist Major Isaacs with legal support in her quest to wear the headscarf as part of her military uniform.
“Fatima has received absolute support from the MJC. We will now make a decision on who her legal team will be.”
According to Mohamed, Isaacs has been under severe pressure since the story broke. However, the media attention has now brought other cases of religious discrimination against Muslim women working in the army to the fore. VOC