The Tea Party News Network
April 24, 2015 By Staff Writer
What This Muslim Law Student Wore that Caused Her to Fail the Bar Exam
Charlyane Souza, a 29-year old Brazilian Muslim law student, sat for the Bar Exam in Sao Paulo and encountered an additional barrage of questioning that caused her to fail the exam.
Souza was frisked before the beginning of the exam and then she was escorted to a private room to be questioned by a female official because she refused to agree to remove her hijab, her traditional headscarf that covers a woman’s hair and neck.
According to the Organization of Brazilian Lawyers (OAB), exam takers are not allowed to have their heads covered due to the concern they might use Bluetooth earpieces and have someone help them cheat on the exam. The official questioned why Souza had covered her head and questioned if she was really a Muslim.
“She asked me if I really was Muslim, and if I had a way of proving it, because I could be just disguising myself as one,” Souza told Arab News.
Souza was allowed to continue taking the exam, but was interrupted again. The president of the OAB’s examination commission, Rubens Tilkian, was summoned to the exam facilities to address the situation. He also requested that Souza remove her hijab for the rest of the exam, claiming it was causing a distraction and others were feeling “uncomfortable.”
Souza wouldn’t compromise her religion and refused to remove her hijab.
She was taken to a private room to finish the exam. The interruptions, interrogations and change of room cost Souza valuable exam time, which she claimed kept her from passing the exam. She scored 31 out of 80. A score of 40 is required to pass the exam.
Souza’s case has forced the OAB to consider how to handle future female Muslim bar exam takers.
Damaris Moura of the Brazilian Bar Association told Press TV, “The association has been working for nearly a decade to guarantee religious freedoms, but it’s a work in progress. Given our role as proponents of these rights, we deeply regret Charlyane’s case. We will continue to fight for the rights of those whose faith has specific requirements.”
Women wearing their hijab in Brazil have suffered discrimination before.
The city of Foz De Iguacu previously banned women from wearing a hijab in photos to renew their driver’s license, even though they could wear a hijab in the Brazilian passport photo. This law was subsequently overturned.
Arab News writer Rasheed Abou-Alsamh believes that anti-Islamic attitudes are increasing in Brazil as the Muslim population increases. Currently, an estimated 1.5 million Muslims are in Brazil.
Although Brazil bans discrimination based on religion, discrimination based on the use of religious items is not protected by law. Souza’s lawyer has submitted a bill to congress to ban discrimination based on the use of religious items, and particularly to protect Muslim women who wear a hijab.
Souza has been granted the chance to retake the bar exam.