Mass. Bar Examiners Will Allow Test-Takers to Wear Hijab

Iman-Abdulrazzak-2By Nikita Lalwani, The Boston Globe

The board that oversees bar exams in Massachusetts will now let test-takers wear religious headwear without requesting permission, after an observant Muslim was mistakenly asked to remove her headscarf earlier this month while taking the test.

Those wishing to wear headwear for religious or medical reasons had been required to ask the board in advance for an exemption to the no-headwear rule. But after Iman Abdulrazzak, who sat for the exam in Springfield, was asked to remove her hijab -- her proctor was not aware that she had requested and received permission to wear it -- the board changed its policy to prevent miscommunication. The change went into effect Aug. 16.

"It has always been our intention to allow examinees to wear headwear for religious reasons, and we've never denied a request in the past," said Marilyn Wellington, the executive director of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners. "Iman had notified bar examiners of her headscarf appropriately before the exam, but regrettably there was a breach in communication and her proctor did not know."

"Now that permission is no longer necessary, that mistake will not happen again," she said.

Test-takers may also wear headwear for medical reasons without asking permission, Wellington said. For example, she said, someone undergoing chemotherapy is free to wear a wig or a cap during the exam. ...

A spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Ibrahim Hooper, called the policy change "a positive development." He said what happened to Abdulrazzak reflected a misunderstanding, rather than any bias or hostility by the Board of Bar Examiners, and that the organization had taken appropriate steps in response.

"Now, we can move forward and have everyone's religious rights respected," he said. "It's not just Muslim women wearing headscarves, but also Sikh men wearing turbans, Jewish men wearing yarmulkes, Mennonite women wearing bonnets. There's all types of religious expression." (Read the full article)


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