Meet Maj. Sabrina Saadi, Israel's first hijab-wearing police officer

"My message to religious Muslim girls like me: You can prove yourself and feel equal."

US police delegation in Israel for joint counter-terror consultations ahead of Sept.11 anniversary (photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE)
US police delegation in Israel for joint counter-terror consultations ahead of Sept.11 anniversary
(photo credit: ISRAEL POLICE)
Major Sabrina Saadi, a senior investigator in the youth division of the Kafr Kanna police department in Israel's Northern District, will make history as the country's first hijab-wearing police officer in the Israeli police, ynet reported.
Saadi was born and grew up in the predominately Bedouin town of Basmat Tab'un in Israel's North, and attended a prestigious high school in Haifa, where she completed her matriculation exams, later volunteering for National Service at the Coastal Police District. Following the completion of her national service, she was unable to enlist in the police force since she did not meet the qualification standards.
Suddenly, Saadi received a phone call from Israel Police deputy director Jamal Kharkash, who notified her that standards have changed regarding the admittance of religious Muslim women, allowing her to enlist in a police course and research course at the National Police College. After completing the course, she was recruited to the newly created Kafr Kanna station, which covers many community settlements, a population of 60,000 people. Saadi is the lead youth investigator at the new station, with two other youth inspectors are working alongside her.
"I grew up in a Muslim religious home, my mother is very religious and like me prays five times a day wearing a hijab. I am single and live with my family in the village. I want to send a message to religious Muslim women like me. The police force is a good home for you. The organization allows you to move forward, prove yourself and feel equal," Saadi noted.
Despite her success, reaching this point was a struggle for Saadi, who notes that she received some criticism from family members and residents of her village. She also experienced threats against her. "At the beginning of the recruitment, there were threats to hurt me. All threats were through Facebook. I am not afraid, I live by my faith and do not hurt anyone. I am only afraid of God," Saadi contended. Some religious Muslim men have also reacted to the idea of Saadi in uniform, in which she suggests that some believe she should stay at home.
Northern District police chief Shimon Lavi commended the importance of recruiting Arab women, saying that "the Northern District promotes the recruitment of women from the Arab sectir into service, in all its various policing and promotional roles, fulfilling operational roles and commands at the core of the organization."
In terms of her actual work, Saadi focuses on violent and internet crimes. "As a youth researcher, I have to constantly upgrade technologically, move forward and learn." When asked about her biggest dream, she said that it is "to go on Hajj in Mecca as the first Israeli police officer."