Muslim organizations protest as Catholic schools in Kerala ban hijab
Muslim organizations in Kerala are protesting against Catholic schools in the state where hijab has been banned inside the school campus. The Muslim Youth League (MYL), Muslim Student Federation (MSF) and Islamic Student Organization (SIO) protested on Monday, September 26, 2022, as Providence Girls Higher Secondary School in Kozhikode banned female students to wear the headscarf in the establishment.
It is the second Catholic school in the state to ban the hijab on its campus. It should be noted that a school in Kozhikode run by a congregation called Apostolic Carmel Southern Province had also banned hijab on school premises and Muslim organizations protested against the school on August 26, 2022.
A student from Providence Girls Higher Secondary School who was studying in the 11th standard was educated by the school authorities that she cannot wear a headscarf because it was not part of the uniform. The girl’s parents filed a complaint with the school organization. As the school stood firm on its rules, the student took a transfer certificate from the school.
MYL released a statement after this incident. In this statement, it was written: âNow the student has obtained a transfer certificate from this school. It is a violation of his fundamental right. Inaction on the part of the state government to take action against such institutions cannot be accepted.
On September 26, 2022, protesting Muslim organizations took to the streets in large numbers and demonstrated outside the school. The police had to use force to disperse the crowd. Some of the protesters were also arrested.
In another such incident which took place in Kozhikode in August 2022, the parent of a girl aspiring to be admitted to the 11th standard lodged a complaint with the state Minister of Education, V Sivankutty. In his complaint, the parent alleged that his daughter was denied permission to wear a hijab at a government-subsidized school she enrolled in for the 11th standard on August 23, 2022.
This school is also run by Catholics. A congregation called Apostolic Carmel Southern Province runs the school’s Christian management board. On Friday, August 26, 2022, a number of Muslim organizations including the Campus Front of India staged a protest, which caused a tense situation outside the school. To control the incident, the police were called.
While interacting with the media, the student’s father said, âIt goes against an individual’s religious freedom as well as the secular fabric of the state. The school uniform is a half skirt and top with an overcoat. It can even make female students uncomfortable as there are also male teachers. But we have no objection to adhering to school uniform, but we also wanted permission to wear hijab.
He added, âThe director asked my daughter not to wear a hijab. The shawl (dupatta) is also not allowed in school. I repeatedly asked the manager if that meant hijabs were also not allowed since there was no permission to wear shawls. Finally, the principal stated categorically that hijab is not allowed. It is calling into question the religious freedom of an individual in a state like Kerala. So I filed a complaint with the minister.
According to the school principal, Silvi, there is no change in the school standards. Silvi said: âThings were explained to them (father and daughter). The student has the possibility of obtaining a transfer from the school. In this school, that would be the norm.
Of the organizations named above, Campus Front of India is the student wing of the People’s Front of India. The Islamic Student Organization is the student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami-Hind. PFI and all its allied organizations were banned by the Government of India on September 28, 2022.