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27 Jan 2018

Remove You Hijab Or Get Out Of My Courtroom - Judge Slams Lawyer

A Moroccan-born Muslim trainee lawyer, Asmae Belfakir, was ejected from an administrative court in northern Italy last week for refusing to remove her hijab.
At a hearing in a regional administrative court in Bologna, Belfakir was asked by Judge Giancarlo Mozzarelli to either remove her headscarf or leave the courtroom, Anadolu Agency reports. Belkafir narrated her ordeal: “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. 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 realised. I was upset and I said, finishing his sentence, ‘the hijab?’”

“Immediately afterwards, he said: ‘Yes. If you want to stay in this courtroom, you must remove it.’ “I replied, ‘I’m not going to remove it. I’m going out.’”

She said that while she was opening the door, the judge 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,” Belkafir lamented.

She alleged that the judge would never ask a nun to remove her veil as she was told to do. She said: “I’m pretty sure that he would never have asked a nun to remove her veil, and I’m quite sure because a nun is not insulting his culture as I did by wearing the scarf.”

Belfakir said that wearing hijab does not affect judicial hearing or her skills as a trainee lawyer.

She said: "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.” NAIJ.com previously reported that Muslim groups in Nigeria strongly condemned the denial of Firdaus Amasa from being called to the Bar due to her wearing Hijab.

The groups described the denial as unconstitutional and a violation of her fundamental human rights. The groups include Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria (MMPN), Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria (MULAN), Federation of Muslim Women Association in Nigeria (FOMWAN), Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN).

The national president of MMPN, Abdur-Rahman Balogun, said in a statement that the refusal by the authorities of the Nigerian Law School to call Firdaus Amasa to the Nigerian Bar was a gross violation of her right to freedom of religion as provided by Section 38 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended.

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