ROME – A Muslim trainee lawyer was humiliated after a judge has ejected her from an administrative court in north Italy last week for not removing her hijab, Anadolu Agency reported on Tuesday.
“I entered the courtroom with all the other lawyers involved in that case. The judge started to say: ‘Can you remove?’ He didn’t even say ‘hijab’ and wasn’t looking at me,” the Moroccan-born Asmae Belfakir said.
“I thought he just wanted someone to remove their coat. I couldn’t have imagined he was talking to me. Then I looked him in the eyes and realized. I was upset and I said, finishing his sentence, ‘the hijab?’” she added.
At a hearing in a regional administrative court in Bologna, the judge Giancarlo Mozzarelli ordered Belfakir to either remove the hijab or leave the courtroom.
The young Muslim lawyer replied, “I’m not going to remove it. I’m going out.’”
She said that while she was opening the door, Mozzarelli told the audience: “Yes, that’s because of the respect of our culture and traditions.”
“Hearing a judge speaking of culture and tradition in that context made me feel really bad. I was just there to learn a job, to understand how the law should be applied. I wasn’t there to be humiliated because of my religion,” Belfakir expressed sadly.
“I heard a lot of things about that judge; his modus operandi and his personal thoughts,” she clarified.
“I’m pretty sure that he would never have asked a nun to remove her veil, and I’m quite sure because a nun isn’t insulting his culture as I did by wearing the scarf.”
Belfakir believes the judge should have known why she was wearing a hijab and that it wasn’t affecting the judicial hearing or her skills as a trainee lawyer.
“In this case, the law should protect people and their freedom of religion – as it is not affecting in a negative way the others — no matter how difficult it gets.”
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not just a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.