Oh man, this year has been nothing less than horrifying for anyone hoping Islamophobia isn’t too expansive in India, hasn’t it? Remember when Muslim women in Jharkhand decided to take matters into their own hands and defend themselves through sheer numbers against ‘gau rakshak’ lynch mobs in July this year? Well, even outside the radar of lynch mobs, Muslim women are no less at the bearing brunt of discrimination, as Nedal Zoya, a Tata Institute of Social Sciences graduate can attest to.
According to a report in Al Jazeera, Zoya was denied a job last week as a social worker at an orphanage in New Delhi because she is a Muslim. The report states that Zoya exchanged a series of emails with Harish Varma, the president and CEO of the orphanage and was asked to give an online test and to send a photograph. When she did, Varma asked her to send a photo without her hijab. When she refused to comply, he told her how ‘shocked’ he was that Zoya cared more about ‘conservative Islam’ than ‘humanity’. He also went on to write her an email stating that he’s hired someone who’s more ‘modern’ and less religious than she is. Varma further wrote in his email, “Our upcoming orphanage will be religion free for the eligible orphan girls as well as staff. But I am sorry to inform you that even a distance of one kilometer you looks like a Muslim lady due to your external Muslim gears! (sic)”
Al Jazeera also reports that Saurabh Bharadwaj, Member of the Delhi Legislative Assembly from the ruling Aam Aadmi Party expressed support for Zoya if she decided to press charges against Varma. Zoya, meanwhile has refused to be bogged down by the rejection and spoken up about the treatment that was meted out to her. Meanwhile, reading this story has left us with not just worry about everyday Islamophobia and frustration at the routine sexism at job interviews. We’ve been wondering. Should this man be in charge of vulnerable children?