US Congressional briefing calls Karnataka hijab ban ‘mass sexual harassment’


Panelists at a Congressional Briefing criticised the interim order of the High Court in the Indian state of Karnataka banning the hijab in schools, forcing young Muslim women to risk harassment or even expulsion if they continue to wear the hijab as per their constitutional right.

Indian American activist a former official with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Sumaiya Zama, said, what is happening right now in India in front of the entire world is mass sexual harassment. The High Court order banning hijab was “humiliating, infantilizing and patronising.

Zama said, “Indian Muslim women are being told what they can and cannot wear by men and by institutions. The consent of thousands of women is being violated as they are told to strip pieces of clothing that they do not wish to remove.”

Zama, who wore hijab at the briefing, said women “should get to choose what we wear or don’t wear… Our silence on efforts to ban the hijab in India means the approval of the violation of Indian Muslim women’s bodily autonomy.” There was “nothing progressive” about restricting women and girls from access to education, forcing women and girls to remove their clothing against their will, and “hounding and harassing women and girls on the street as they try to attend to their colleges and schools.”

Amina Kausar, an Indian American IT professional who also wore hijab at the briefing, said, the Karnataka High Court’s ruling and the decision of the Karnataka government to implement what has now become a state-wide ban was obviously a part of the larger goal of the Islamophobic, autocratic Modi regime.

Kausar maintained that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in India had “already adopted a series of laws and policies that systemically discriminate against Muslims and other vulnerable communities in the country such as the Citizenship Law, revoking constitutional autonomy in Muslim majority Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir, beef ban, laws against cow slaughter, love jihad law, and many others. These laws are accompanied by street violence by vigilante mobs that lynch working class Muslims at will, she said.—INP


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