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Pittsfield Woman Told to Remove Religious Head Scarf During Bar Exam

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — The state is reviewing testing procedures after a Pittsfield woman says that she was asked to remove a religious piece of headwear during a recent bar exam.

Under state law, no articles of clothing can be worn atop the head during tests, like the Mass. bar exam, because they say it can be easy to slip cheat notes in to the exam.

Iman Abdulrazzek recently took the state’s bar exam. She completed the morning portion with relative ease, until the proctor interrupted her by passing her a note telling her to remover her hijab.

“To make matters worse, the note was passed to me during the exam. There are opportunities for the proctor to discuss this matter as we were going in. She could’ve brought it up at lunch which would’ve resolved the problem, but by the time I got my head around what she exactly wanted, I lost plenty of time from writing my essays,” Abdulrazzek recalled.

After speaking to supervisor, and calling Boston, the issue had been resolved.

Abdulrazzek had gotten permission ahead of time after combing the bar examiner’s website and triple checking with them to avoid what ended up happening.

“I called them. They said they received it. I called them again and they said I am authorized. I said, ‘Can I get some confirmation?’ he said, ‘No worries, we’ll make sure the folks in Springfield know.’ I think the entire rule is very cumbersome to have to go through that while doing review is stressful enough,” Abdulrazzek said.

“I’ve never heard about this happening before, but this is clearly an affront to Iman’s constitutional rights, and freedom of speech,” Massachusetts Bar Association member Keith Minoff stated.

Upset, Abdulrazzek posted the note to Facebook, only intending to share it with friends.

When she went to bed, it had 40 shares. By the time she woke up, it had 400 shares, and had made its way to Tumblr.

It caused her friends in Massachusetts, Michigan, and New York to share their experiences in similar situations, which is why she’d like to see the law disappear.

“A friend of mine was taking the MCAT in New York, and she was patted down every time she went into the room,” Abdulrazzek explained.

In a statement, the Board of Bar Examiner’s Executive Director Marylin Wellington acknowledged that Abdulrazzek was inappropriately interrupted, due to “a regrettable miscommunication”.

They’ll now be reviewing all procedures, including the training and oversight of proctors.

Abdulrazzek has absolutely no hard feelings towards the board or the proctor, and hopes the event doesn’t affect her passing. She’ll find out the results of her exam in November.

Any changes the board may make will take affect before the next bar exam in February.


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