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August 06, 2013


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Not very good. There is no justification for this type of treatment, especially when she already was cleared to wear her religious garment. If she ends up failing this exam there will be a lot more trouble; not that the outcome is at issue here. This kind of behavior should not be tolerated in this country.


Dani Rodrik has written extensively about the Turkish case, going back years now. Most recent post from his blog in January is here:

Albert Ross

If Ms. Abdulrazzak had written approval to wear her hijab I wonder why she didn't bring it with her and just show it to the proctor.


Would a burqa be permissible as well(only eyes visible)?

Seval Yildirim

Harold, thank you for the link. I am still in Turkey (though not in Istanbul) and everyone (from all news outlets to ordinary citizens) are talking about the case. Although I agree with much of what Dani Rodrik has written, there are a variety of opinions on the street here with significant reasons why some (if not many) continue to support the Erdogan government and why some are not upset with the outcome in the case. I hope to cover some of these complexities in my next post about the case.

Seval Yildirim

Albert Ross- As I understand, the approval is not in written form, thus would not have been available to present to the proctor.

Anon- I do not know the answer to your question regarding the Massachusetts bar exam. I appreciate there are other potential concerns about face veils, such as concerns with identification, but even face veils can be accommodated. For example, a female proctor can confirm the examinee's identity in private prior to the exam. I have written about a Florida case involving a face veil, where I discuss my views on the issue in further detail. You can access the piece at


She should not have had to produce a note. There should have been a master list of those who had been excepted from the rule. Why rely on X number of people to show up with a written form when the people who make decision could keep the list? If anything happened to the form (lost or in a stolen purse) they would have to resort to looking for proof that the person had been given permission. What would they look to? Most likely, a list.


"People who made the decision"


Is it likely that application to wear the hijab was verbal, and that approval was communicated to the exam taker verbally and only verbally?
Sorry, that doesn't seem very likely.

Michelle Meyer

According to Ms. Abdulrazzak (

"I was successful in getting the authorization, but when I called Monday to ask for proof of the authorization to take with me to the exam site, they said it was not necessary and that they would make sure the proctor knew that." The proctor then passed her the note during the exam saying that wearing the hijab during the exam required "prior written approval."

It sounds like the person Ms. Abdulrazzak spoke to on the phone prior to the exam and the proctor had their wires crossed on the finer points of a policy that probably wasn't implemented very often.

Jeff Clark

Isn't it somewhat ironic that you would point to the actions of completely different people (TSA security personnel) as "trigger[ing] suspicion about the motives of the proctor", and yet disapprove if the actions of some Muslims trigger suspicion about completely different Muslims?

Seval Yildirim

Jeff Clark- I am not sure how referencing a clearly established pattern of discrimination against Muslims especially since 9/11 is ironic. TSA discrimination is but one instance of this ongoing discrimination (which I have personally experienced in various contexts).


Sevel: with no intent to provoke any negative inference by asking: does the current travel ban/embassy closure policy constitute another "instance of this ongoing discrimination"?
I am truly interested in your view of this matter.

Jeff Clark

Seval ... there is not a clearly established pattern of terrorism by certain Muslims? The point is that just because you find some pattern somewhere of profiling by TSA officers, what does that at all have to do with what this proctor's motives were? Or if what some TSA officers do is supposed to make us suspicious of some unrelated proctor's motives, why isn't what some Muslims do supposed to make us suspicious of what some unrelated Muslim might do?

Seval Yildirim

Anon- No. When I speak of ongoing discrimination against Muslims, I am not speaking of U.S. foreign policy (and related decisions like the recent embassy closures in the MENA region), the complexities of which cannot be reduced to racial and sectarian prejudice and discrimination. However, when the issue is undue interruptions of individual lives (as in the case of disrupting a bar examinee mid-exam), despite constitutional protections and other legal prohibitions (such as workplace laws), we can talk about ongoing discrimination.

Jeff Clark- I am unclear as to why you are only focused on TSA discrimination. Again, it is only one context in which Muslims generally, and covering Muslim women specifically have experienced profiling and discrimination (see this 2008 ACLU report for other contexts: As the report also notes, other contexts of discrimination include the workplace, immigration, other law enforcement and schools. At the very least, the manner in which the proctor approached Ms. Abdulrazzak after the exam had started, and the tone of the note passed constitute sufficient reason for suspicion- at least for me. Moreover, state agents are not ordinary citizens, and are bound by laws that demand they not single out individuals based on various prejudices. I do not see how questioning state agents on discrimination is akin to profiling ordinary citizens whose actions are not supported by such authority. By that logic of not questioning the motives of those in positions of authority in midst of a discriminatory climate, we should never wonder about violations of individual liberties, because doing so would be profiling and discrimination in itself.

Jeff Clark

You can question this proctor's motives if you wish, whether or not he is a government employee. You may even be right - "the manner in which the proctor approached" her and "the tone of the note" are relevant, whether they prove what you suggest. However, citing what others do as triggering suspicion about his motives is what you did in the last paragraph of what you wrote. I was simply commenting that while you understandably may feel that it is wrong to be suspicious of someone (e.g., a Muslim) because of what other Muslims have done. it is ironic when you do the same thing yourself in making that complaint.

I am merely suggesting that if you want to convince others of the righteousness of your opinion, don't use arguments which you apply oppositely depending on "whose ox is being gored". Perhaps it would help if you would put yourself in the proctor's position and imagine that what he did was a completely innocent mistake on his part. Now imagine that someone says "I doubt it is innocent because of what other people unrelated to him did." Would you feel any differently than profiled Muslims do?

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