It is said that if a society or a nation does not learn from its history, its future always remains in danger. It’s not just for the sake of saying, but we have seen several civilizations being destroyed, countries divided, societies being broken down, just because they failed to learn from their history.
India is currently witnessing an orchestrated protest over the Hijab issue. The protest began on February 4 at the Government Girls PU college in Udupi district in Karnataka, when some Muslim students alleged that they had been barred from attending classes wearing hijab.
Well, as expected the entire Liberal-Secular-Leftist-Ialsmist cabal has started milking this godsend opportunity to spread their agenda to push Islamic practices in Indian society. They have given this a religious color and engaged international NGOs and personalities to put pressure on the Indian Government.
They are portraying it as an issue of Muslim pride and relating it with the honor of Muslim Women, although there is no reference in Islamic religious text that can justify the usage of Hijab. However, they have forgotten that such steps only devastate Muslim women in long term.
Iran’s dillema with Hijab and Veil
Let’s take the example of Iran. The most famous Islamic leader Ayatollah Khomeini led an Islamic revolution in 1978-79. He used the Hijab as a symbol of resistance and protest against the monarchy of Mohammad Reza Shah. The Shah was trying to modernize the country, but the religious fanatics used to denounce such policies.
Initially, the Hijab was not compulsory for the protestors, and neither it was touted as an essential part of Islamic practices. However, women were encouraged to wear Hijab or Veil to express their solidarity with the religious revolution.
A few years later, when Iran was fighting a bitter war with Iraq, the Iranian establishment used this as a tool to clamp down opposition forces and to bring in harsh domestic laws. In 1985, the Iranian government made it mandatory for women to wear the hijab irrespective of their religious beliefs.
The Hijab and Veil became a robust tool for implementing the government’s strict religious ideology. The Iranian parliament passed a law that if any women don’t cover their hair in public will be punished with 74 lashes.
However, this mandatory Hijab or Veil law was oppressive in nature, and people started realizing it later. The Women who were supporting this law a few years back have started feeling the heat. This law excluded women from various areas of public life, whether it is participating in education or sports, or banning them at workplaces.
In 2006, Iranian women started staging their own rallies to protest against this compulsory hijab law. The women are all dressed in black chadors and expressing their displeasure with this highly biased and oppressive law and rejecting this ideology imposed by Iran’s religious leadership. They were showing the zeal to regain control over their own bodies.
Here we can see the three broad stages of this entire Hijab and Veil saga. The first stage is where Hijab or Veil is touted as a revolutionary tool, and women were encouraged to wear it to show solidarity with the agenda. Once the Hijab and Veil become popular, then comes the second stage when the government enacts touch laws and uses them as an oppressive tool to spread their hardline stance.
They make it mandatory to wear hijab or veil for all women, and any violation is met with harsh punishments. The third comes when people start protesting against the same Hijab and Veil as they want to break the religious shackles to attain basic freedom. However, this is not easy for Iranian women to get the liberty of not using hijab or veil so easily, as there will be serious resistance from the Islamic leadership, which will not give away this leverage to them.
Afghanistan – Another victim of Religious Fanaticism
Afghanistan too facing the same dilemma. Afghan Women were among the most liberated ones, at least in the middle-Asian region. You may not believe that Afghan women were granted the right to vote in the 1920’s. Afghan constitution provided gender equality in the 1960s.
By 1977, many women were able to occupy the highest positions in the legislative body. In the 1990s, 50% of the government workers, 70% of school teachers, and 40% of doctors in Kabul were women. Afghan women used to attend college universities, they used to roam freely, attend workplaces and perform several other social works.
The veil existed in Afghanistan before the Taliban’s rise to power but it was never imposed or mandatory to wear. When the Taliban came to power initially, they enforced a mandatory Veil policy for women, and any violation used to meet with threats and beating by the religious police.
In previous years, we have seen a couple of anti-veil protests in Afghanistan too. However, this movement has received a massive setback last year, when the Taliban once again dethrone the Afghan government and imposed all brutal Islamic policies.
These two examples show how Hijab or Veil was used as a tool to devastate the societies in these countries, and women are still experiencing the repercussions of these enforced religious practices.
What holds for India?
In India, few people with vested interests are making this an issue of women’s liberty and religious freedom. However individual rights can’t claim primacy over institutional rights and collective conscience. Though the right to choose attire, particularly when such choice of attire is based on religious affiliations and sentiments, is important, such a right cannot be extended to wearing such attire of choice even in educational institutions.
Kerala High Court has already passed an order in this matter in 2018. The order said that it’s for the institution to decide on a dress code, which was highlighted by lawyers during the argument in the hijab case at the Karnataka High Court to substantiate their points.
The Kerala High Court, while dismissing the petitions filed by two Muslim girl students seeking permission to wear a headscarf as well as full sleeve shirts in their school, the Kerala High Court had observed that it cannot instruct an educational institution to consider the requests of students.
We must remain very careful about this nefarious movement, and make the people understand the repercussions of forcing religious compulsions in the name of secularism and religious freedom. We have to inform our youth and show them the outcomes of such movements in the past, ask them to learn from the historical mistakes committed in Iran or Afghanistan, and ensure we don’t entrapped in such vicious propaganda.