40 students impacted

University of Zakho prevents niqab-wearing students from sitting exams

ZAKHO — The University of Zakho has implemented a controversial policy barring students who wear the niqab from participating in exams, affecting niqab-wearing students, primarily from the university’s Sharia College and the Biology Department.

A student representative told 964media that 40 of 50 niqab-wearing students were prevented from taking exams today.

The university announced days before the final exams, which began Sunday, that niqabs would not be permitted inside the exam rooms. Despite advance notice, none of the affected students were prepared to remove their niqabs, according to a 964media correspondent.

A small number were allowed entry after a delay surpassing 30 minutes. However, others left the university premises earlier and missed the exams. The university stated that students permitted to participate after verification would not be allowed to wear niqabs in future exams, including those scheduled for the upcoming Tuesday.

The policy’s future is uncertain and may spark controversy among the student body and the wider community.

Dr. Nazim Jaqsi, president of Zakho University, said, “We have given full authority to the deans of colleges and heads of departments to enforce examination regulations as they see fit. They are the decision-makers in this regard.”

The ban is seen as a measure to ensure academic integrity, with concerns that the niqab could be used to conceal identities or facilitate cheating.

An niqab-wearing student who wished to remain anonymous told 964media she would comply with identity verification in private if it allowed her to sit for her exams. “If there are doubts, they can check us in a private setting to ensure no one else is taking the exam in our place,” she said.

The university maintains that the policy will remain firm, and those who were unable to take their exams on the initial date have been informed they will not be permitted to wear the niqab in future exams scheduled for Tuesday.

Efforts to reach Abbas Akram, spokesperson for the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Ministry of Higher Education for comment, were unsuccessful.