CAIRO – A Brazilian Muslim law student has been humiliated while taking the Brazilian bar exam, arranged by the Organization of Brazilian Lawyers, for wearing hijab, reflecting soaring level of intolerance toward the Islamic headscarf in Latin America’s largest economy.
“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,” the Brazilian Muslim law student, Charlyane Souza, was quoted by Arab News.
The 29-year-old, Souza, was frisked and interrupted several times while taking her exam at the Organization of Brazilian Lawyers (OAB), for wearing hijab.
At the beginning of the exam, the veiled student was taken to a separate room for interrogation by a female official.
Souza faced several questions like why she wears the hijab. She was also forced to prove that she is a Muslim.
The Muslim student was interrupted once again by Rubens Tilkian, the president of the OAB’s examination commission, who asked her “if she would feel uncomfortable taking her hijab off, as other exam takers were allegedly feeling uncomfortable”.
After refusing to remove her headscarf in public, Souza was taken to a private room to complete her exam.
Interrupted for several times during the exam, she couldn’t pass the exam after answering 31 out of 80 questions and wasting about 60 minutes of her exam time during room replacement and interrogations.
Despite mistreatment and humiliation, the OAB didn’t offer apologies for the Muslim student.
However, the organization announced plans to mull whether Muslim women would be allowed take exams in veils in the future.
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.
According to the 2001 census, there are 27,239 Muslims in Brazil.
However, the Islamic Brazilian Federation puts the number at around one and a half million.
Islam expert Paulo Pinto of Fuminense Federal University estimated Brazil is home to about a million Muslims.
With no confirmed number of Muslims, the best indicator of the growth of Islam in the country is the rapid increase in the number of mosques.
There are now 127 mosques, four times as many as there were back in 2000.