The hijab ban in Karnataka has been upheld citing it is not a religious requirement Photo – MaktoobMedia
Johannesburg – The Karnataka High Court has upheld the ban on hijabs and headscarves. Muslims students are banned from donning these items in educational institutes in the Karnataka state. The court ruled the hijab was not an “essential religious practice in Islamic faith” and dismissed a set of petitions filed by Muslim students.
This all began when a group of Muslims students were barred from entering their educational institutions in the Southern Indian state. Students were permitted entry only after removing their hijabs. Ghazala Ahmad, New Delhi-based journalist, said not only were they barred from “furthering their education” but they were also harassed while they protested for their freedom.
“These girls resisted this intimidation and they protested for a long time while they were harassed by the saffron goons, the hate mongers. These goons are being supported by the government and establishment here in India, but they kept resisting their religious identity and the matter later reached one of the courts of the state which passed an interim order that said students should not wear any religious attire to their classes till this case’s final hearing. The final hearing of the case came yesterday…. this is what happened now.”
The court also ruled that students are required to stick to the uniform and the school dress code. This is a reasonable restriction which is constitutionally permissible and which the students cannot object to, says Ahmad. He believes that uniformity is used by political to push their “ideology” onto Muslim students.
“The uniformity reason is being given to get off with the ideology they want to impose on all Indians, especially Muslims. Uniformity is an excuse which is being given by all these political leaders and through the authorities of the Karnataka states. This hijab thing has nothing to do with uniformity. The girls wear all the things which are essential to their college uniforms, but hijab is something which they do due to their faith, which they do due to their religion. All of this is being done to strip these Muslim women of their dignity and to dehumanise Muslims in the country.”
The ban comes as Muslims are being targeted by the government. Ahmad explained that the ban, while it will have a domino effect throughout the country, does not mean much, as Muslims are currently being dehumanised by the government.
“They are continuously doing things which are dehumanising Muslims in the country. Muslims are not allowed to offer salaah [prayer]. Muslims girls are continuously being stripped of their dignity time and again. I am one of the examples of that. I was asked to remove my hijab to get a job in journalism. There are several other women in different other states who are being asked to remove their hijabs for jobs. This is going to have wider implications.”
This ruling will have major repercussions according to Ahmad. Firstly, it makes it much harder for women to progress in their education as “Muslim girls will not get an opportunity to study further or get a higher education because if you ask us to remove our hijab, we will not do that.”
Secondly, and of greater concern, the ban will now give right-wing Hindus encouragement and power to continue to “intimidate, harass, and molest Muslim women”. It gives much more power to establishments which are seen as “very much Islamophobic in nature.”
Ahmad stated that they will not rest until they have exhausted all avenues to get their rights. The next step for them is to “challenge this particular verdict in the highest court of the country”.
“First of all, I just want to say to all the women who are wearing hijab and who do this very religiously that we just keep one thing in mind. This is not something we do out of our choice. This is something which is related to our religion… We are not going to sit back and relax. This is something [wearing hijab] which has been commanded by our Creator along with this, if we are living in India, this is a constitutional right. This is our human right. This particular verdict is a violation of our fundamental right, and it is completely criminal. Completely unacceptable and we are not going to sit back and relax. We are going to contest this until we are going to get our rights back.”
Maryam Mkwanda speaks with Ghazala Ahmad, listen here: