Karnataka hijab row sparks debate over religious practices in educational institutions
By MK Ashoka
Bangalore, Jan 23 (IANS): The issue of wearing the hijab (headgear worn in public by Muslim women) in colleges with the uniform has sparked a debate in Karnataka about religious practices impacting the state education system. The case also snowballed into controversy over whether the hijab could be considered part of the uniform.
The ruling BJP is deliberating on whether to take up a call to allow hijab as part of student uniform. The state’s Education Minister, BC Nagesh, while opposing the wearing of hijab in classrooms, said a decision would soon be taken on the matter by the government.
Both experts and students are divided on the issue. Those in favor say the dress code in classrooms should not indicate faith or religion as it creates barriers between students and teachers. Those who support wearing the hijab say the hijab should be treated like a scarf. The hijab is black in color and cannot be a religious symbol because Islam is identified with the color green. The hijab should be treated as a symbol of chastity, they argue.
The denial of permission to six girls from Government Girls’ Pre University College in the state’s community-sensitive Udupi district has created controversy. Nagesh called it a political movement and questioned whether learning centers should become religious centers.
Meanwhile, the female students have decided to continue their protest until they are allowed to attend classes wearing the hijab.
“I faced the issue of hijab. We weren’t allowed into class just because we wear hijab. Although it’s our basic and constitutional right, they don’t allow us. It’s a government college. There is a lot of discrimination in college, we can’t talk to each other in Urdu, we can’t say salaam to each other in college. This matter has become community and we are so sad about it. We didn’t want it to become community,” said Aliya Assadi, a protesting student.
“Many political parties take advantage of this. We only ask for basic human rights. I don’t know why it’s so difficult to get us in with headscarves. We don’t ask permission with burqas. Last Friday, the college The headmaster and four teachers asked the protesting students to give a letter of apology blackmailing them that their statements about the hijab were untrue. For basic rights, do we have to do so much?” she asked.
“They are teasing that we will never win in this protest. They have called our parents many times and tried to manipulate them. I am asking the government officials to answer the question and allow us to wear the hijab. We don’t want no options. We want to study, rise in life and wear hijab,” Almas explained.
Eight college students are still protesting on the college campus for being refused entry to classrooms for wearing the hijab with the uniform. Five of them are studying in II PUC and three students are studying in I PUC.
Students are refusing requests to avoid hijab and are firm in their stance that until the government gives them permission to wear hijab and attend classes, they will remain seated outside classrooms and will continue to protest. They argue that it is their religious freedom and their constitutional right to wear the hijab.
Sathish M Bejjihally, member of Academic Council of Bengaluru City University and Principal of Vidya Sanskaar Institute of Science, Commerce and Management, told IANS that educational institutions should be deprived of caste, color and religion. Students come to school to learn. There may be differences of opinion, but there should not be differences between individuals.
“Dress should not indicate faith, religion. This will create barriers between students. Development can lead to clashes in educational institutions. Swami Vivekananda said that education is the manifestation of perfection which is already there in the child. The child was born as a ‘vishwa manava’ (citizen of the world), but society prevents him from becoming one,” he said.
Students wearing the hijab will be deprived of peer group learning. The uniform is a comfortable fabric designed to facilitate student participation in sports and cultural activities, he explained.
However, Prof. Muzaffar Assadi, Dean of ManasaGangothri Faculty of Arts at Mysuru University, explained that the dress code is a matter of decency. We should be allowed to wear hijab just like sarees, Punjabi dresses are allowed. The hijab could be treated like a headscarf and it won’t hide the uniform.
“If the hijab could be treated as a religious symbol, students could not come to class with kumkum (bindi, vermilion), bracelets. No public school is completely secular. Saraswathi pooja is conducted, the pictures of the gods Hindus will be on the walls, festivals are celebrated in schools, aren’t they religious?” Assadi asks.
Hijab is a symbol of chastity, not a religious symbol. “Why don’t you treat it like a simple scarf? If you look at everything from that perspective, wearing the ‘Janivaar’ (holy thread) is also religious. The hijab is not religious because it is black in color. The Islam is identified with green, and black also represents dissent and sadness, he says.
Dress that does not attract sexual appetite, indecent, against the rules and does not cover the uniform should be allowed. “Let’s celebrate cultural diversity. I oppose uniform culture itself. A colleague of mine who is retiring always comes to conferences in jeans and a t-shirt. It shouldn’t matter,” he said. he declared.
Premashree, a member of the central working committee of Akhila Bharatha Vidyarthi Parishad and an LLM student, explained that students should come with a sense of unity.
“Anything that affects unity and builds grouping, we will oppose. There shouldn’t be saffron shawls on campus either,” she said.
“For 75 years, the uniform system in the country has been maintained like this and it must be maintained like this,” she said.
Campus Front of India (CFI) state committee member Masood Manna said, “If there is no solution found by the government, they will stage a protest. “It’s a violation of the right to education and the right to practice a religion,” he said.
Nagesh told IANS that a decision was made by the school’s development and management committee in 1985. The committee made a decision regarding uniforms on campus. “So far, all children follow the rule. No matter what institution, if they make a rule, students who want to study must be obliging. All these days, the uniform rule has been followed, and why have- they suddenly changed?” He asked.
“It’s political. What if others start wearing dresses as they please? Should they be allowed, students will come in half dresses, and should they be allowed?” Nagesh asked.
A similar incident was reported in Chikkamaglur district. A group of students started wearing saffron shawls to protest against the wearing of hijab by some female college students. The authorities solved the problem after organizing a parent-teacher meeting.
Now all eyes are on the ruling BJP movement in the state over the issue of students wearing the hijab.