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Karnataka witnesses protests against Hijab ban

Unrest erupted as the state of Karnataka sided with right-wing Hindu demands for a hijab ban, robbing Muslim girls of their freedom of expression.

Karnataka, an Indian state, has closed its schools for three days after the regional administration-backed schools that imposed a hijab ban, sparking widespread demonstrations.

Six female Muslim students launched a weeks-long protest in January after being forced to either remove their headscarves or cease attending classes at a government institution in the Udupi region.

Other universities in the state began enforcing the religious prohibitions last week after some Hindu students, backed by extreme rightwing Hindu organizations, argued that if hijabs were allowed in classrooms, saffron shawls should be allowed as well, a chiefly political symbol of Hindu nationalism. 

Muslim students have taken the issue to the state high court, claiming that their right to freedom of religion is being violated. The students claim that “religious apartheid” is being implemented in some universities, where women wearing hijabs are allowed to enter but are separated from the rest of the students in separate classrooms.

In response to protests, Basavaraj S Bommai, the state chief minister, shut down schools and colleges for three days on Tuesday.

The opposition Indian National Congress party’s leader, Rahul Gandhi, was harshly critical. “By letting students’ hijab come in the way of their education, we are robbing the future of the daughters of India,” he said. “Prohibiting hijab-wearing students from entering school is a violation of fundamental rights.”

Indian Muslim students wearing Hijab banned

Muslim students in a government college in India’s southern state of Karnataka have been sitting outside of their classrooms for weeks now, as they’ve been banned by principles and instructors from wearing their hijab in class.

The students were even asked to remove their headscarves, but they refused. The six Muslim students were accused by the college administration of defying the rules, alleging that the hijab is not part of the uniform.

The girls insist that the hijab is part of their faith, the practice of which is guaranteed by law. They’ve been marked absent from their classes since December 31, despite their going to university every day.

Source: Almayadeen English