Twenty-seven-year-old Nedal Zoya graduated with a master’s degree in social work and decided to apply for a job in an orphanage in India. However, to her surprise, the CEO decided not to offer her the position once she sent a photo that showed her wearing a hijab.
Al Jazeera reports that the Delhi Orphanage for Girls’ CEO, Harish Varma, and Zoya exchanged several emails and her chances of landing the job seemed promising until Zoya sent a headshot.
“Everything was going smooth, we exchanged many emails,” she said. “But a few days ago, I got an email stating that ‘I am sorry to inform you that even [from] a distance of one kilometer you look like a Muslim lady due to your external Muslim gears’.”
Zoya earned her master’s degree in social work at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, and she said she was saddened to be discriminated against for her religious beliefs.
Varma suggested that to continue with the hiring process she must remove her hijab, as her institution is “religion-free.”
After Zoya denied the request, a lengthy email from Varma followed stating that she did not appreciate that for Zoya, “conservative Islam was her priority, not humanity.”
Varma told Al Jazeera that the candidate they decided to hire instead of Zoya was of more secular appearance.
And although Indian law prohibits discrimination based on religion, Varma said, “I don’t want any influence of any religion in my organization.”
Zoya said that she is using the incident to create awareness of the growing Islamophobia in India.
“My motive was to create [an] awareness, as I am not the only one who has faced such discrimination. People at least need to discuss this matter so that such discrimination on the basis of religion and appearance can be questioned,” she said.
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