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Tamil Nadu: Woman ordered to remove hijab before taking Hindi exam

A Muslim woman was allegedly stopped from taking an examination after she refused to take her hijab off at the Annamalai Matriculation Higher Secondary School, located near Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu.

Shabana who is an Arabic teacher at a private school, appeared for the Hindi Madhyama exams on Sunday, August 20.

Fifteen minutes after the exam by the Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha began, she was ordered to remove her hijab to continue the paper.

MS Education Academy

When she questioned the invigilator and refused to remove her hijab, she was told that it was as per the guidelines of the exam.

Despite agreeing to remove her nosepiece, the school authorities did not agree, reported the Indian Express.

While speaking to reporters Shabana alleged, “I requested the principal that being a teacher I can not remove my hijab. The principal was not ready to hear my justifications. I stood there for a few minutes in the hopes that he would leave the place so I could continue my exam.”

“But after a while, the school correspondent spoke loudly and stated she would not let me take the exam if I was wearing a hijab. She took my writing pad, kept it outside, and instructed me to leave the exam room and only return after taking off my hijab,” she added.

Shabana added that the officials made her wait for about an hour as they continued to argue with the principal.

After several rounds of talks, and protests by SDPI, and the intervention of the police and education department, they finally allowed the woman to write the exam with her hijab.

However, the woman turned it down stating that she was not in the frame of mind anymore to do so.

On Monday, August 21, Shabana filed a petition with the District Collector and also filed a written police complaint at the Tiruvannamalai DSP office citing discrimination and requesting that the school’s principal and correspondent be held accountable.

A district education official told the IE that the exam was not conducted by the state but by the Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha. He further clarified that it had not issued any such orders for candidates to remove their hijab to take an exam.

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