Karnataka is witnessing a strange phenomenon these days. There is an intensified conflict going on between a government college in the Udupi district and a group of Muslim students who wish to wear the hijab during their class. Muslim students are protesting with posters and raising slogans against the so-called oppression of their religious freedom.
The Muslim students are claiming that denying them the opportunity to wear a hijab, which their seniors used to have, is a stern violation of their religious and fundamental rights, and that they feel quite uncomfortable while sitting in front of male lecturers without wearing hijab.
A student, who was denied entry into classes has moved to the Karnataka high court and filed a writ to seek the right to wear headscarves inside the classroom. Resham Farooq, in her writ, claimed that the right to wear a hijab is her fundamental right, and it is guaranteed under Articles 25 and 14 of the Constitution and is an essential practice of Islam.
What is the Issue?
Udupi’s Government Women’s Pre-University College recently did not allow six students who were wearing a hijab into their classes. The college was reopening weeks after the Covid-19 outbreak.
This row began the earlier last month when seven Muslim students were denied entry into the classes for wearing hijab. The college administration had said it had enforced the ban on hijab to maintain the “uniformity”. However, now this decision has prompted both support and criticism from religious and political outfits.
The college has a strength of approx. 700 students, including 76 Muslim students. The college development committee head BJP MLA K Raghupathi Bhat has suggested that students wearing the hijab to college should opt for online classes until the issue is resolved.
As per the Muslim students, the hijab was allowed in class till a few years ago, but for the past few years, the college officials have been objecting to it and asking them to remove it inside the classroom. Students used to wear the hijab in class but were repeatedly denied permission, they have now decided to go ahead and take legal help.
College principal Rudre Gowda claimed that “the rule on hijab has been in force since the college got established in 1985. Students are allowed to wear the hijab till they reach their desks. Once the class starts, they have to remove the hijab. This issue started only at the end of December and we don’t know why”.
Karnataka Education Minister BC Nagesh has ordered a committee to look into the uniform matter. The committee will submit its report and then only further action will be taken. The government has asked all the schools and colleges across the state to maintain the status quo.
Administrative Issue turned into a Religious Mud-Slinging
The local teachers were rightfully feeling that this issue has gone beyond their control, and it has now become a full-blown controversy that could spread to other colleges and universities if not controlled.
Several radical Islamist organizations have entered the fray to generate political and religious mileage. The notorious PFI and CFI (Campus Front of India) have supported the students’ demands and linked this with Islamic practices.
On the other hand, several pro-Hindu organizations have taken a strong stand against PFI and CFI and warned that Hindu students will attend classes with saffron shawls if the hijab is allowed.
Radical Islamists smelled an opportunity to initiate Hijab Movement
The whole and sole objective of a radical Islamic organization are to orchestrate a pro-hijab movement to provoke Muslims and achieve their political goals.
If you see the language of the petition, you may understand what we are trying to portray. The advocates mentioned that in a 2016 case(Amnah Bint Basheer vs Central Board Of Secondary), the High Court held that the analysis of quranic injunctions and the Hadiths show it is a ‘farz’ (duty) to cover the head and wear the long-sleeved dress and exposing the body otherwise is forbidden. Try and understand the meaning of the word ‘forbidden’, it is an Islamic term.
The petition also argued that this decision will create a stigma among the students, and this may create a wedge between them and may affect the mental health of the Muslim students.
Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), the political wing of PFI has initiated a Hijab Movement, and it is gaining traction among the local Muslims. Here it is important to know that the SDPI has recently won three seats in the Udupi urban local body polls, and marked their entry into the political scene.
Secretary of the Muslim coordination committee for Udupi district, Abdul Rehman Razvi Kalkatta has also warned that “We do not know how this issue cropped up but if this is not addressed, it is going to spread to other schools and colleges, polluting the environment of educational institutions”.
We are pretty much sure, that this movement will further attract the attention of Secular-Liberal-Feminist and this could be blown out of proportion. These people can engage international groups and NGOs to put pressure on the government to repeal this ban, and if any such thing happens, then it will be termed as a massive win for Islamists.
It’s a general tendency of Muslims to bring their religious identity in every possible matter. Be it Burka, Hijab, Triple Talaq, CAA, or even loudspeakers, they create a situation to give religious color and provoke their Qaum to create a social disturbance.