India court restricts wearing hijab in classrooms in southern state
New Delhi, Feb 11 (EFE).- A court on Friday provisionally restricted the use of hijab, as well as other religious attire such as saffron scarves being used by Hindu students, after rising protests against the Islamic veil in several educational institutions in southern India.
“We restrain all the students regardless of their religion or faith from wearing saffron shawls and connected matters such as scarfs, hijab, religious flags or the like within the classroom, until further orders,” said the High Court of Karnataka, the southern region where the hijab controversy has sprung up.
The authorities clarified that the decision would only be implemented in educational centers that impose a certain dress code for students, while ordering the reopening of schools, which had been shut down in the state due to the protests.
“The court acknowledged that “every citizen has the right to profess & practice any faith of choice,” but insisted that this right is “not absolute and is susceptible to reasonable restrictions as provided by the Constitution of India.”
“Whether wearing of hijab in the classroom is a part of essential religious practice of Islam in the light of constitutional guarantees, needs a deeper examination,” said the order, shared by legal updates website Bar and Bench.
The decision comes after a series of protests that began in December 2021 when an institute in Karnataka denied entry to several girl students wearing the traditional Muslim headcloth, arguing that wearing religious symbols was not allowed in classrooms.
As the girls insisted on wearing the hijab to classrooms, other students started showing up wearing saffron scarves in opposition and in support of the ban, triggering a controversy that has spread to several more institutions since then, with the ban also being enforced there.
The protests reached a peak on Tuesday, when a hijab-wearing girl standing up to an aggressive mob of Hindu students and chanting “Allah-o-akbar” (Allah is great) outside a school become an iconic image that has symbolized the protests against the ban on hijabs.
Although India is a constitutionally secular country, tensions have frequently flared up between the Hindu Majority – which consists around 80 percent of the population – and the Muslims (14 percent), especially in states ruled by the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, including Karnataka. EFE