If Nuns can wear headgear why I can’t wear Hijab, asks Safina Khan Soudagar

Every religion has its own symbolism. Just like the way a bindi represents the Hindu culture, a rosary symbolizes faith in Christianity, wearing a Hijab shows your faith towards the Islam religion. But often people face discrimination based on these. One such case has come into a light yet in Goa. A 24-year-old girl from Merces had faced this discrimination when she went to attend the NET test.

A 24-year old writer and post-graduate psychology degree holder, Safina Khan Soudagar, has taken the internet by storm after she voiced her disappointment on the discrimination she faced for wearing a Hijab.

The Merces-based Muslim woman claimed that she was not allowed to write the National Eligibility Test (NET), as she was wearing a hijab which was against the dress code. She further said that she had to face such discrimination on various occasions too. She argues that nuns can keep their headgears on then why not Muslim women wear a hijab?

Safina said she faced such discrimination even at the time of her getting the passport made. Speaking on the same to Times of India, she recalled another incident which occurred in June, wherein she was stopped by the GMC ward staff to visit her father’s friend who had been admitted. She said, “We were told that there were some incidents in the past when a woman with hijab entered. Only after much debate, we were allowed to enter.”


She took on the social media to address this issue. She stated that she was to attend the NET exam on Tuesday but wasn’t allowed to answer as her dress code was allegedly against the test rules. She said in her post “Why? Because I refused to take off my hijab. Yes, that’s right. In a democratic country, a secular society, in a forward state like Goa, I was not allowed to answer an exam that I had all rights to do…”

She was asked to show her ears and after much argument with the officials, she agreed to re-tie her hijab in a way her ears would be seen. She was asked to do so in front of the officials about which she stated “I asked them to show me to a washroom. They refused. Asked me to do so in the presence of men who aren’t family, which is against Islamic beliefs.”

She chose not to take the exam as she wanted to keep her faith above the test. “I chose to keep my faith above these laws that do not allow me to practice my religion freely in a “secular society”. And this incident isn’t isolated. I’ve had to face similar disregard for my hijab in the passport office as well. Where I was told the nuns are allowed to keep their headgear on, but I’m not. Even though both garments signify the same thing, modesty, religious beliefs and our love for God,” Safina said.

This post has received support from social media users of all religions. Safina appealed to all her fellow Hijabi women to extend their support to fight against such discrimination. An education official requested, that candidates are supposed to to undergo checks and remove their headgears to prevent cheating.

India is country of many religions. It becomes important to take into consideration of one’s religious sentiments and respect fellow citizens. This incident has made us question on the secularity of the country. What do you think? Is it important to separate education from religion? Or should one take into consideration people’s religious sentiments when it comes to issues like this?

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