Swedish Muslim could set new headscarf precedent

Swedish Muslim could set new headscarf precedent
Cherin Awad, known for her work on a controversial Sveriges Television (SVT) programme, may well become the first practising attorney in Sweden to wear a headscarf.

On Monday, the 23-year-old Awad began her pioneering action at a law firm in Stockholm.

Awad gained notoriety recently for refusing to shake hands with Aftonbladet newspaper columnist Carl Hamilton in an episode of SVT’s Halal TV, which features three young women born and raised in Sweden, but who have roots in different countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

While she thinks it’s a shame that most Swedes likely recognize her from the much-discussed handshake incident, she remains steadfast in her belief that, as a practising Muslim, she shouldn’t make physical contact with people of the opposite sex.

“We have different ways of showing one another respect; I place my right hand on my heart instead. I plan to continue with that and I don’t think there will be any problems. Those who seek me out are most interested in my legal competence,” Awad told the TT news agency.

She has completed her law degree and is now working as a junior lawyer at a law firm. But she has to wait a few years before passing the Swedish bar exam and becoming a full-fledged attorney.

Awad has no qualms about getting a chilly reception.

“So far I’ve had nothing but positive reactions. I don’t think my religion is going to limit my choice of clients. For me it’s important to show what Muslim women can do and encourage others to go out and try things they might not otherwise have thought they could do,” she said.

Her boss, attorney Ismo Salmi, thinks it goes without saying that others’ religious customs need to be respected and that it’s important to support diversity.

“She does a goes job and is evaluated only according to that,” said Salmi.