Hijab ban: Muslim women denounce K’taka HC verdict

A group of Muslim women on Wednesday expressed their strong resentment against the Karnataka High Court’s judgement in which the court upheld the restriction on wearing Hijab in classrooms and educational institutions in the state.

“The Karnataka High Court said that wearing the Hijab is not an essential religious practice in Islam and is not, therefore, protected under by the right to freedom of religion guaranteed by Article 25 of the Constitution. This was not even the question,” said social activist Khalida Parveen while addressing a press conference in the national capital.

Earlier, a Karnataka High Court’s special bench dismissed all petitions seeking direction for permission to wear hijab in classrooms. The HC also stated that “wearing of hijab is not an essential part of Islam. Prescription of uniform is constitutional and students can’t object to it.”

Other women speakers said that they are “deeply distressed by this judgment” and believe that not only is it setting a bad precedent in constitutional law, but also that it enables outright discrimination against Muslim women in public institutions in Karnatka.

“It creates an unsafe atmosphere overall for hijab wearing women, rendering them vulnerable in a time of increased mob violence and repression,” they said.

While speaking to IANS, one of the speaker averred that under the garb of ‘uniformity’ and maintaining a homogenous culture, the line that the judgment has taken is a clear case of discrimination against Muslim women and violates their right to education.

Sharing a data, they said the education of more than 230 girls in Udupi alone has directly been impacted by the interim order and they will now suffer the loss of their academic year.

The Muslim women, in a statement, separately listed out a set of demands that they want to be fulfilled urgently. First they demanded that the state government must amend the Education Act to ensure that uniforms mandated by the relevant authorities are inclusive and respectful of cultural and religious diversity. College Development Committees (CDCs) of different colleges must also ensure that dress code prescribed by them is similarly inclusive and non-discriminatory.

The women demanded relief for students whose academic year might get impacted by the Court’s ruling; students who missed their exams must be allowed to give them now, and in the immediate instance girls should be allowed to write their exams wearing Hijab.

“The High Court order nowhere prohibits the wearing of hijab while writing exams; it only allows the prescription of uniform by CDCs that bars Hijab. If any new dress code is being introduced by colleges for writing exams, it should not be implemented in the current year,” they said.

They also demanded an immediate registration of FIR against anyone who is intimidating or harassing Muslim women students or their families.

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