Muslims should fight for their rights | By Jubel D’Cruz, Mumbai

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Muslims should fight for their rights

A prohibition on wearing the hijab for Muslim girl students in schools and colleges in coastal Karnataka is a hate crime which has sparked an outrage among the Muslim community with massive crowds protesting against the restrictions.

The standoff in Karnataka has raised fear among minorities about what they say in escalating persecution under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government.

On January 1, this year, the headmaster of a Pre-University College (PUC) in Udupi (Karnataka) forbade some female Muslim students from attending classes because they were wearing hijab that rendered the concept of uniform superfluous.

This controversy spread to other educational institutions across the state, where Muslim students started demanding that they be allowed to attend schools and colleges wearing burqa and hijab.

However, hundreds of people gathered on roadways protesting against the move.

According to social media reports, one of the schools had allowed female Muslim students wearing the hijab to sit in separate classrooms.

Karnataka is governed by the Modi’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party and numerous members of the party have backed the ban which has been criticised by other political leaders.

But the moot question is: If Sikhs in Karnataka are allowed to wear the turban in schools and in colleges which is sacred to them, and Hindus allowed to put a bindi, pottu, vibhuti or a tilak on their foreheads, then why not Muslim girl students also be allowed to wear the hijab and the burqa in educational institutions?

The law of the land should be the same to all.The hijab is a veil that many Muslim women wear in accordance with their religion.

It encourages them to dress in a modest manner.The hijab also has a long history.This type of head covering has been in existence long before Islam came into existence.

The word ‘hijab’ is derived from an Arabic word ‘hajaba’, meaning ‘to conceal’ or ‘to hide’.Hijab is itself a sign of beauty covering one’s self with a piece of cloth or a scarf.

It is a charm of a Muslim woman that is given to her by Islam.In Islam, it is mandatory for a Muslim woman to cover herself with hijab.

Hence, no one can stop a Muslim woman or even a non-Muslim woman to cover herself with hijab on her head.The hijab purifies and enhances the beauty of a woman by covering her.

World Hijab Day is celebrated on February 1 every year.In a hearing, the Karnataka High Court has said that no religious garments should be allowed in schools and in colleges.

This means that no burqas, no hijabs and no niqabs for Muslim girl students inside educational institutions.This is totally unfair and against the Constitution of the country.

Article 14 of the Constitution of India provides for equality before the law or equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.

It states: “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India”.

Further, Article 25 says, “All persons are equally entitled to the freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion.

”Why is the Karnataka government only targeting Muslims?Is it because Muslims are weak and cannot fight for their rights?

In India, Muslim women wearing burqas are even called naxals and terrorists.Does the government want to throw out all Muslims from the state and from the country?

What a country we are living in!Instead of black, the hijab can be according to the colour of the school uniform, which I’m sure no parent or student would object.

—The writer is contributing columnist, based in Mumbai, India

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