Karnataka hijab row triggers debate on religious practices in educational institutions

By M.K. Ashoka

Bengaluru, Jan 23 (IANS): The issue of wearing a hijab (head covering worn in public by Muslim women) to the colleges along with the uniform has sparked a debate in Karnataka over religious practices impacting the education system in the state. The matter has also snowballed into a controversy on whether the hijab could be considered as part of the uniform.

The ruling BJP is deliberating on whether to take a call on allowing hijab as part of the uniform of college students. State Education Minister B.C. Nagesh, while opposing the wearing of hijab to classrooms, has said that a decision would be taken on the issue soon by the government.

The experts as well as students are divided over the issue. Those who are in favour state that the dress code in classrooms should not indicate faith or religion as it creates barriers between students as well as teachers. Those who support the wearing of hijab say that hijab should be treated as a scarf. Hijab is black in colour and it can't be a religious symbol as Islam is identified with the green colour. The hijab should be treated as a symbol of chastity, they maintain.

The denial of permission to six girls in the Government Girls' Pre University College in the communally sensitive district of Udupi in the state has created a controversy. Nagesh dubbed it as a political move and questioned whether centres of learning should become religious centres.

Meanwhile, the girl students have decided to continue their protest until they are allowed to attend classes wearing hijab.

"I have been facing the issue of hijab. We have not been allowed into the classroom just because we are wearing hijab. Though it's our fundamental and constitutional right they are not allowing us. It's a government college though. There is a lot of discrimination in the college, we can't speak to each other in Urdu, we can't say salaam to each other in the college. This matter has become communal and we are so sad about it. We did not want this to become communal," Aliya Assadi, a protesting student explained.

"Many political parties are taking advantage of this. We are just asking for basic fundamental rights. I don't know why it is so tough to take us inside with a headscarf. We are not asking permission with burqas. Last Friday, the college principal and four professors made protesting students give an apology letter by blackmailing them that their statements on hijab are false. For basic rights do we have to do so much?" she asked.

"They tease that we will never win in this protest. They called our parents many times and tried to manipulate them. I request government officials to respond on the issue and allow us to wear hijab. We don't want options. We want to study, come up in life as well as wear hijab," explained Almas.

Eight students of the college are still protesting in the college campus for being denied entry into the classrooms for wearing hijab along with the uniform. Five of them are studying in II PUC and three students are studying I PUC.

The students are turning down the demands of shunning hijab and are firm on their stand that until the government gives them permission to wear hijab and attend classes, they will sit outside the classrooms and continue to protest. They maintain that it is their religious freedom and constitutional right to wear hijab.

Sathish M Bejjihally, Bengaluru City University Academic Council Member and Principal Vidya Sanskaar Institute of Science, Commerce and Management, told IANS that educational institutions should be devoid of caste, colour, religion. Students come to school for learning. There may be differences of opinion however, there should not be differences among individuals.

"The dress should not indicate faith, religion. It will create barriers between students. The development may lead to clashes in the educational institutes. Swami Vivekananda has stated that education is the manifestation of perfection which is already there in the child. The child was born as ‘vishwa manava' (global citizen), but society restricts him to become one" he said.

The students wearing hijabs will miss out on peer group learning. Uniform is a comfortable cloth designed to facilitate participation of students in sports, cultural activities, he explained.

However, Professor Muzaffar Assadi, Dean Faculty of Arts in ManasaGangothri in Mysuru University, explained that dress code is about decency. We should be allowed to wear hijab just as sarees, Punjabi dresses are allowed. Hijab could be treated as a headscarf and it will not hide the uniform.

"If hijab could be treated as a religious symbol then students can't come to classes with kumkum (bindi, vermillion), bangles. No public school is completely secular. Saraswathi pooja is conducted, Hindu gods' photos will be on walls, festivals are celebrated in schools, aren't they religious?" Assadi asks.

Hijab is a symbol of chastity, not a religious one. "Why don't you treat it as just a scarf? If you see everything in that perspective then wearing of ‘Janivaar' (sacred thread) is also religious. Hijab is not religious as it is of black colour. Islam is identified with green colour. Black also represents dissent and sadness, he says.

The dress which does not attract sexual appetite, indecent, against the rules and which does not cover uniform should be allowed. "Let us celebrate cultural diversity. I oppose uniform culture itself. One of my colleagues who is retiring always comes for lectures in jeans and a t-shirt. It should not matter," he said.

Premashree, Central Working Committee Member of Akhila Bharatha Vidyarthi Parishad and student of LLM, explained that students have to come with a feeling of unity.

"Anything which affects unity and gives scope to groupism we will oppose. There should not be saffron shawls either in the campus," she said.

"Since 75 years the uniform system in the country has been maintained like this and it has to be maintained like that," she opines.

Masood Manna, State Committee Member of Campus Front of India (CFI), said, "If there is no solution found by the government they will stage a protest. "It is a violation of the right to education and the right to practice religion," he said.

Nagesh told IANS that a decision had been made by the School Development and Management Committee in 1985. The committee has taken a decision with regard to uniforms in the campus. "So far all children are following the rule. Whichever institution it is, if they make a rule, the students who want to study must be obliging. All these days the uniform rule was followed and why did they suddenly change?" he asked.

"It is political. What if others start wearing dresses according to their wishes? Do we have to allow them, the students will come in half dresses, and do we have to allow them?" Nagesh questioned.

A similar incident was reported from Chikkamaglur district. One group of students started wearing saffron shawls protesting the wearing of hijabs by some girl students in the college. The authorities have resolved the issue after holding a parents-teachers meeting.

Now, all eyes are on the move of the ruling BJP in the state over the issue of wearing of hijab by students.






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Comment on this article

  • Pradeep, Mangaluru

    Mon, Jan 24 2022

    When I studied in school there was no Hijab or Jeelaab.... All the students were wearing same uniform, Boys with Blue Pant, White shirt, Tie & Shoes..... Girls - well groomed with salwar kameez with Blue duppata with shoes... We were last bench students with Hindu, Muslim & Christan with same uniform.. Sharing lunch during the lunch time, having fun, playing together. No one was bothered about their religion. I as an Hindu was exchanging sweets/Panchakajjas during Ganesh chaturthi, Deepavali etc and Christians with Plum cakes during Christmas and Muslims with Chiken ,fish fry during Ramzan... They when everyone need to show their religon only in classrooms??? let them show it in public places.

    DisAgree [2] Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • Rezy, Mlore/Mct

    Sun, Jan 23 2022

    Sardarjis wearing Turban and keeping beard from young age, this attire is excepted in colleges, police, army and they don't even wear helmet. When all this is accepted for last so many decades, then why communal evil mentality to hate particular religion now?

    DisAgree [3] Agree [8] Reply Report Abuse

  • Shahnawaz k, Dubai/udupi

    Sun, Jan 23 2022

    Ban all religious practices like wearing hijab..wearing tilak/bindu Sharada pooja...leaving small long hair as shendis..ear rings for male students....janivara..namas on foreheads....skull caps..long beards.. Just make education instititions free from all sorts of religious contraversies..dedicate it only for education and nation building.. The rules should be applied in its equality to students from all religions n not on muslim and christians.. Bjp has devided in india successfully..thats thier greatest achievement

    DisAgree [4] Agree [15] Reply Report Abuse

  • H. Almeida., Bendur/Andheri.

    Sun, Jan 23 2022

    Readers, the wind's for change is blowing across predominant Islamic nations in the middle east regions... The unthinkable is happening, as women are allowed to drive, work independently, even allowed to speak their minds.. by another decade we will see positive transformation, away from mediocre fundamentalism afflicting these nations...

    DisAgree [5] Agree [19] Reply Report Abuse

  • Joel, Mangalore

    Sun, Jan 23 2022

    Since when wearing scarf became a fundamental right? This debate is useless cause students should be following rules of school inside the campus, parents know it very well too.

    DisAgree [12] Agree [33] Reply Report Abuse

  • peacelover, india

    Mon, Jan 24 2022

    Have you seen the pics of girls wearing hijab particularly pics of these 8 girls. The ONLY ADDITION IS A SCRAF ON HEAD, AS GOVERNMENT ALREADY MADE IT MANDATORY TO COVER THE FACE BY MASK... 50% HIJAB IMPOSED BY GOVERNMENT, what they are asking is to cover the head by scarf.. that's it.

    DisAgree [3] Agree [1] Reply Report Abuse

  • Syed Mohiudin, Iruvail/Riyadh

    Sun, Jan 23 2022

    Hijab it is simply covering female head so what is the problem to the teachers or any students. Is any Muslim parents or particular students made any issue while Sharada pooja, Diwali or christmas celebration in a school ??? any one made object a nun who wearing full body covering apparels or one who weaaring tilak or kumkum ?????what is the nonsense going around?? THIS IS NOTHING BUT HATRED.

    DisAgree [21] Agree [19] Reply Report Abuse

  • shuba, Mangalurui

    Sun, Jan 23 2022

    It's management decision to announce beginning of an academic year the rules and regulations of the insurance. While we respect all religions in this country the dress code to be a part of respect if it goes with the uniform code accepted by all. If we have tolerated it in the past and we do not want to have any controversy then it is better we abide by the rules of the institution for development of all religions and culture

    DisAgree [2] Agree [9] Reply Report Abuse

  • Agnes, Mangalore

    Sun, Jan 23 2022

    If men can move around without covering hair wearing shorts etc. Why restrictions on women only. Aren't they equal to men. Why are women bowing and accepting such discriminatory practices. Most of the gulf countries are not forcing this age old discriminatory practice on women anymore.

    DisAgree [15] Agree [29] Reply Report Abuse

  • Hussain, Abu Dhabi

    Sun, Jan 23 2022

    Bring the law which bans wearing of hijab, bindis, kumkumas, saffron bands, turbans etc. all religious identification. But no... You have problem only with Muslims ... Do not allow the attire of someone who wants to go to shabarimala... can you bring the law?

    DisAgree [13] Agree [28] Reply Report Abuse

  • Nazeer husain, J eddah

    Sun, Jan 23 2022

    Recently seen this college principal was trying to answer media in English it was looks like kanglish which means he is just AATADHA BOMBE..... Regarding relegious practice in educational institution it's impossible for disbelievers to keep away their own number of meaningless and nonsensical practices.Its the power of hijab where the sanghi chaddis mindset gets irritated looking on it.Keep it up sisters.Islam is the reality and believers have to face these kind of enimies.

    DisAgree [27] Agree [13] Reply Report Abuse

  • real kujuma, kodial

    Sun, Jan 23 2022

    all govt positions are got by greasing the palm of politicians....so these principals cannot speak any language properly...what can be expected from them...moreover, most of them are chaddi supporters..

    DisAgree [11] Agree [27] Reply Report Abuse

  • Flavian, Mangalore/Kuwait

    Sun, Jan 23 2022

    Sikhs are the back bone of India's defense, air force & Navy and in every sector there are Sikhs serving in their respective fields. If at all discipline is to be applied it should armed for or in defense line. Let the BJP government elucidate their concern on the matter. ? Let them apply strictly uniform rule on all religions based students. Day by day they are exploring unknown meaning less approaches.

    DisAgree [9] Agree [21] Reply Report Abuse

  • Rakesh, Mangalore

    Sun, Jan 23 2022

    Birds born in a cage think that flying is an illness!

    DisAgree [16] Agree [22] Reply Report Abuse

  • Hussein, Moodbidri

    Sun, Jan 23 2022

    We cannot compare religious obligation with something else. We have to learn to respect everyone's belief. For someone discarding is part of his religion, where as for another one covering is part of his religion.

    DisAgree [15] Agree [8] Reply Report Abuse

  • Mohammed, India

    Sun, Jan 23 2022

    Do bjp govt have dare to stop sikhs from wearing turban in school??

    DisAgree [21] Agree [38] Reply Report Abuse

  • Indian, Udupi

    Sun, Jan 23 2022

    Mr. Uncultured minister, If wearing hijab to cover their head is religious practice. Then do you have guts to ban wearing bindi, kumkum, treads to hands, rings to legs, mangalsutra etc. Leave aline janiwaras as its not visible. Remove all the photos from walls, stop sharada pooja in schools and all festivals. If you agree for this then come to the point.

    DisAgree [17] Agree [35] Reply Report Abuse

  • Moshu, Mangaluru

    Sun, Jan 23 2022

    Nagpur HQ wants muslims to give up the disciplined holy scripture Quran and follow their own evil practices advocated in university syllabus..

    DisAgree [20] Agree [17] Reply Report Abuse

  • G R PRABHUJI, Mangalore

    Sun, Jan 23 2022

    Every institution must have uniform code for Students as well as to teachers and office staff. Before joining the institutions all students and parents must agree for the dress codes. Every instituition must be sole authority as they want the uniform. Any religious resembling dress should not allow.

    DisAgree [10] Agree [23] Reply Report Abuse

  • Shareef, Mangalore

    Sun, Jan 23 2022

    Wore saffron colour hijab to solve this problem

    DisAgree [6] Agree [27] Reply Report Abuse

  • Dev, Mangalore

    Sun, Jan 23 2022

    A very tricky situation to decide if one is neutral as both sides have valid points as justifying their viewpoints. I think our school and college days were golden as no uniforms were imposed. Now coming to the debate according to some scholars the wearing of head scarves or long robes weren't in Islam but came from Arab tradition that pre existed the beginning of Islam. The saree is used to cover head and face existed in North Indian women from some Hindu communities. It is Better to come to college to learn rather than adhere to the older tradition when uniform is decent trying to assign decency to a head cover is illogical. The same way wearing any shawls in opposition too is bad as it isn't a tradition or requirement of Hindu tradition. I remember 2 students wearing black shawl when in vrata to go to Shabarimala temple which was not disputed by any in those days.

    DisAgree [5] Agree [10] Reply Report Abuse

  • Flavian, Mangalore/Kuwait

    Sun, Jan 23 2022

    Yen another U-Turn is likely to be applied very soon ! This is BJP trade mark. If hijabs are not allowed how it is possible to allowed Turbans and other items practiced as a religious faith. Our politicians unnecessarily try to control BJP self created rules on other religious people. Majority concern by overlooking constitutional rights of citizens. India is a multi religion and multi traditionally/linguistically bound Nation and trying to control by force means overlooking peoples choice of religious practices. Tomorrow they may jump on Christians too.

    DisAgree [5] Agree [22] Reply Report Abuse

  • Mangalorean, Mangalore

    Sun, Jan 23 2022

    Utter nonsense! We Indians are absolute religious fanatics, obsessed with politics and religion and of late started mixing both. This is done by politicians purely for vote bank and ordinary citizens get carried away. We don’t care if we don’t have food to eat but we want religion. We don’t care about education, employment, health, schools, roads, parking, drinking water. What matters to us is ONLY politics and religion.

    DisAgree [4] Agree [19] Reply Report Abuse

  • Sunny D'Souza, Marnimikatte

    Sun, Jan 23 2022

    Simply diverting attention from the real issue Jobs,GDP, poverty, inflation, price of petrol and diesel, and hundreds of other issues So many factories and industry have closed Only issue is Love Jihad,Cow, Muslims,caste, religion, temple Nonsense country is going to dog's

    DisAgree [4] Agree [24] Reply Report Abuse

  • Mak, Mangalore

    Sun, Jan 23 2022

    Even the west and European countries allow hijab as it's right to women's freedom of choice... I don't know what's with our government.. If this was during 2000's there would have been state of emergency in country ... For opressing minorities.. This is not west of Europe indian muslims make population of 204 millon which is more than any muslim country and makes second on list after Indonesia for highest muslim population .. It's not a joke to harras and opress minorites. Even the principal is not playing fair rule here ,he should be taken to task at first ! This is india ,we all loved here with religeous harmony ,back in days even all women used to cover their heads with saree shawl regardless of religion.. and before 1,500 years or so they women used to be naked with only covering below their hips ..now what will you call nudity ? You should understand things are not comparable from time to time.. I clearly take my stand the college authority including the principal is clearly wrong here ! Justice will be served

    DisAgree [7] Agree [16] Reply Report Abuse

  • Reynbo, Belthangady

    Sun, Jan 23 2022

    Once you get job, and the employer asks you to not to wear certain dresses, will you boycott your job too?

    DisAgree [15] Agree [17] Reply Report Abuse

  • sense_shetty, Mangalore

    Sun, Jan 23 2022

    Remove all religious statues and inscriptions from All schools and colleges ..

    DisAgree [18] Agree [40] Reply Report Abuse

  • Observer, puttur/abu dhabi

    Sun, Jan 23 2022

    bjp has dum?

    DisAgree [3] Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse

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Title: Karnataka hijab row triggers debate on religious practices in educational institutions

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