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A ban on Norwegian female police officers wearing Islamic headscarves has been ruled illegal.

The Norwegian Equality Tribunal said the ban ran counter to the country’s freedom of religion and anti-discrimination laws by depriving a whole category of women from joining the police force.

The row began when a Muslim woman who had applied to become a police officer said she did not want to remove her hijab.

Last year Norway’s centre-left government at first approved a police decision to allow women officers to wear the headscarf but the move sparked outrage. Right-wing groups complained about the so-called “Islamisation” of the country.

The main police union has also voiced concerns saying the headscarf undermines the neutrality of the uniform.

The equality tribunal’s ruling is not legally binding.

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