Secular European states have adopted a range of regulation and accommodation policies concerning minority religious practices, often with much controversy. These policies are often heterogeneous, even within nation states. This paper compares the process that led the Norwegian armed forces to accommodate symbols of minority religions in their uniform regulations since the 80s, with the response to a 2008 proposal to accommodate the hijab with the Norwegian police uniform. Drawing on Kingdon’s concept of windows of opportunity in policy-making, the comparison explores step-by-step how various actors responded to two controversial claims for accommodation, twenty years apart, with two different policy outcomes. The analysis is based on case documents, public statements recorded by the media, parliamentary transcripts, and qualitative interviews with key actors from the two processes. The comparison demonstrates how some actors within both the military and the police policy fields were willing to accommodate minority religion, but the 2008 claim for accommodation in the police met with broader and more intense contestation of both problem definition and issue authority. A close reading of the 2008 case highlights the institutional and political changes that occurred since the 80s, and their influence on narrowing the window of opportunity for accommodation.
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