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New Cops Hijab Adds to US Muslim Fury

Published: 09/02/2013 09:18:08 PM GMT
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ST. PAUL - A second photo depicting a US policeman in St. Paul in Minnesota wearing hijab with his face covered with a brown paint has appeared, to the fury of the Muslim community. I don't care if they're on duty or off d (more)

ST. PAUL - A second photo depicting a US policeman in St. Paul in Minnesota wearing hijab with his face covered with a brown paint has appeared, to the fury of the Muslim community.

"I don't care if they're on duty or off duty, anything that can reflect poorly on the image of this department or this city, it's not going to be tolerated," Police Chief Thomas Smith said, Twin Cities website reported."They can have private lives, but they're still officers and they have to earn that badge every day."

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The new photo, which came to light on Friday, February 8, shows a man wearing hijab with what appears to be brown paint covering his face.

The photo was posted on the Facebook page of someone named Jim Lee in October 2010 and seems to have been taken at a Halloween gathering.

There is a police officer in St. Paul named Jim Lee, but the police have not said whether he is the man in the photo.

"I want to know if this man in the photo could b one of your officers?" Mukhtar Ibrahim, a Washington D.C.-based Muslim journalist, tweeted to the police department.

Police responded to him via Twitter, "Chief Smith is very aware of this photo. He is taking swift action looking into the matter. Thank you."

Smith said officers will be retrained in cultural matters.

He arranged another recorded message to be circulated at department-wide about the oath of office that officers took and the dangers of officers using social media.

The photo is the second of a police officer in St. Paul mocking at hijab and Muslim women clothing.

The first photo showed a white male police officer wearing a Target name tag with a Somali name, who was found later to be a St. Paul officer named Robert Buth.

Buth issued an apology Tuesday, saying the picture was taken at a private Halloween party on personal time.

"I apologize to anyone who may have been offended by the recently publicized photo," Buth said in the statement.

He said he regrets that the image "may have been viewed to be insensitive to the Muslim community."


After the publication of the photos, five members of the East African community wrote an editorial expressing anger and disappointment.

"Wearing culturally specific and revered expressions of identity as a costume is an offensive act and an expression of white privilege," wrote the four women and one man who are members of the East African community in the editorial published on Afro-Remix website.

“These 'costumes' perpetuate racial and cultural stereotypes, reduce entire communities to a set of props and qualities, and result in cultural appropriation and misrepresentation."

The signatories warned that such insults harm cooperation between the community and the police.

"As a result, community members may believe that there's no point in reporting crimes since those tasked with protecting us may have a bias or question if officers take the concerns from the community seriously."

Seeking to calm the anger of Muslim residents, especially those of Somali descent, an assistant police chief went to a St. Paul mosque to speak with worshippers.

Police spokesman Howie Padilla, who was also there, said they received a positive reception.

"I don't want the actions of a couple to tarnish all of the work that we have done with our diverse communities for quite some time,” Smith said.

City council member Melvin Carter criticized the offensive photos.

"The actions of the officers depicted in these photos are offensive and embarrassing," he said."Mocking culture, skin color and religion for a laugh may seem trivial, but any behavior that violates the sacred, essential trust between our officers and residents is reckless and inexcusable."

Reproduced with permission from