What does a hijab - a Muslim women's headcovering - have to do with a Jewish man's yarmulke, a long beard or an evangelist's pin?

All are banned under the dress code of the Philadelphia Police Department, but all have been the subjects of court appeals throughout the U.S.

Yesterday, a three-judge appellate panel asked questions about all four items during a hearing to determine whether Kimberlie Webb, 46, a 13-year veteran Philly cop, could wear a hijab.

The panel from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to issue an opinion soon.

Judge Theodore McKee, a member of the panel with chief Judge Anthony J. Sirica and Judge D. Brooks Smith, was quick to point out that Webb was raising constitutional issues on appeal that were not raised in a lower court.

"And they can't be raised here," he added.

Webb's attorney, Jeffrey Pollock, of the Fox Rothchild law firm, replied that she had raised the First Amendment issue - the right to express her religion - in a 2003 letter to her police supervisor, requesting to wear the hijab. The letter was part of the case.

But Pollock admitted that other constitutional issues were not raised in the lower court - only sex discrimination, as a result of filing a U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity claim.

Only female Muslims wear hijabs, the basis of the sex-discrimination claim, he added.

Pollock said that New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C., allow "breakaway" hijabs, which have snaps or Velcro and do not hinder officers in police actions.

He also cited comments by Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, when he headed the Washington Police Department. Ramsey invited Sikhs to apply to be officers and said that he would make allowances for them to wear beards and turbans.

"Mr. Pollard wants to do-over the record," Eleanor N. Ewing, the city's senior appellate attorney, told the judicial panel. None of these claims was part of the evidence last year in the U.S. District Court case, she said.

Ewing pointed out that Webb and another female Muslim officer testified last year that they saw ashes on Catholics' foreheads on Ash Wednesday, and others wearing crosses or angel pins, but neither could recall who wore them, or whether they were reprimanded.

On June 12, 2007, U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III ruled that Webb suffered no "undue hardship" when she was denied the right to wear a hijab while on duty.

"Prohibiting religious symbols and attire helps prevent divisiveness on the basis of religion both within the force itself, and when it encounters the diverse population of Philadelphia," said Bartle.

Yesterday, the judges frequently cited a case involving a Newark, N.J., Muslim police officer's right to wear a beard. The officer, Shakoor Mustapha, 52, came to support Webb.

In New York state, Muslim officers have been "wearing a hijab at least 10 years," said ex-cop Imam Shair Abdul Mani, a chaplain for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which oversees police agencies statewide.

Webb, a divorced mother of six, became a Muslim about the time the Police Department hired her on May 22, 1995.

"I like my job," said Webb, who works in the 35th District, Broad and Champlost, with another female officer on a van on the overnight shift. Some Muslim female officers support her privately, but many remain "timid" publicly, she said.

The ACLU and a Sikh, a Jewish and seven Muslim organizations joined Webb's lawsuit. *