Hijab and handgun: Israel's first Muslim female detective is breaking the mold

Already serving as an juvenile investigator, Sabrin Sa'adi wants not only to be the first police officer to wear the Muslim head covering, but also a role model for other Arab women to see the force as a viable career option; 'I want to be the first police chief with hijab,' she says

Israel Moskovitz|
Police Master Sergeant Sabrin Sa'adi, an investigator for the juvenile division in the northern Arab village of Kafr Kanna, will become the first hijab-wearing religious Muslim female to be a police investigation officer.
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  • "I want to become the first hijab-wearing commissioner," says Sa'adi.
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    Sabrin Sa'adi
    Sabrin Sa'adi
    Sabrin Sa'adi
    ( Photo: Sharon Tzur)
    Sa'adi was born and raised in the northern Bedouin village of Basmat Tab'un and studied in Haifa.
    After graduating from high school, Sa'adi volunteered for national service in the police, trying to enlist after her service was up.
    Since at the time there were no open positions, she worked as a retail manager for a clothing store in Haifa in the meantime.
    Everything changed after three years ago, she received a phone call from Deputy Commissioner Jamal Hakrush for the Israel Police Northern District, who offered her to join the force after positions were open to religious Muslim Arab women.
    Sa'adi leaped on the opportunity, enlisted and went through basic and investigation training at the National Police Academy in Bet Shemesh.
    After she finished her training, she was posted to the Kafr Kanna police station, a newly built station that oversees the 60,000 residents of Kafr Kanna, Tur'an, Mashhad, Al-Batuf, Hoshaya and Kibbutz Beit Rimon.
    Sa'adi is the only investigator for the station's juvenile division, along with two youth inspectors.
    "I grew up in a religious Muslim home, my mother is very religious, and we prayed five times a day and wear hijabs," says Sa'adi, who lives with her family. "There are no other hijab wearing women who ever went to officer training."
    For her, it's not only a matter of personal achievement but also a sense of duty.
    "I want to convey a message to all other religious Muslim women like me," she said. "The police is a good home for us, the organization lets you climb up the ranks, to prove yourself and feel equal."
    Despite her prestigious position, the way to the top was not easy for her. Along with the admiration and encouragement from her family and friends, she has had to deal with some unwanted side effects.
    "When I first enlisted there were threats to hurt me on Facebook," she says. "I'm not afraid, I live by my beliefs and I am not hurting anyone. I'm only afraid of God."
    Even today Sa'adi says that she comes across comments by other Arabs who don't want to see a religious Muslim Arab woman in police uniform.
    "It's only because I'm religious, they expect me to stay at home," she says.
    Northern District Commander Maj. Gen. Shimon Lavie emphasizes the importance of Arab women joining the force.
    "The Northern District is working to promote the enlistment of Arab women in a variety of roles and work for their advancement," he says.
    "We wish the best of luck to Sabrin in officers' training and await her return as an investigative officer in our district."
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