Muslim woman asked to remove headscarf during bar exam in Springfield

On Wednesday and Thursday, law school graduates aspiring to practice in the Commonwealth gathered in Boston and Springfield to take the 16-hour bar exam, broken into several parts. During the morning portion of the test Thursday, recent graduate of the University of Michigan Law School Iman Abdulrazzak was handed a note from an exam proctor asking her to remove her headscarf.

 

The note, written in capitalized block letters read, “Headwear may not be worn during the examination without prior written approval. We have no record of you being given prior written approval. Please remove your headwear and place it under your seat for the afternoon session.”

While “headwear including hats, scarves, caps, hoods, bandanas, visors, costume headgear or sunglasses” are prohibited from the examination room, religious headwear is permitted. “Headwear that has been granted prior approval by the Board of Bar Examiners for religious or medical reasons only,” according to the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners’ security policy.

Such religious headwear includes Jewish yarmulkes, Muslim hijabs and Sikh dastars.

Though it is clear that prior approval is needed for headwear, Abdulrazzak said her request to wear the hijab was approved Monday. Additionally, it is unclear why the proctor gave her the note during the exam instead of waiting until the lunch break.

During the break for lunch, Abdulrazzak called the Bar office to request she be allowed to take the exam in the afternoon with her hijab on.

Executive Director of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners Marilyn Wellington told law news website Above The Law the issue was resolved quickly.