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Burqa and hijab conspiracy in India

Hindu, India, PU College, Hijab, Burqa

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Burqa and hijab conspiracy in India

That these women have gone on record stating that the hijab is more important to them than education doesn’t raise many eyebrows, because we are supposed to focus on how the Hindu nationalist government is suppressing these knowledge-enthusiasts from their access to education. Writes Ashlyn Davis

News is coming from India about how the administration is preventing hijab-wearing young Muslim women from receiving an education. That these women have gone on record stating that the hijab is more important to them than education doesn’t raise many eyebrows, because we are supposed to focus on how the Hindu nationalist government is suppressing these knowledge-enthusiasts from their access to education. But we need to take a deep dive into this matter, as it is more than what meets the eye.

One must understand the basics of how things work in India. In India, to maintain social parity and secure students from social inequality, there is the concept of the uniform in schools and a dress code in higher educational institutions. On January 1, a group of Muslim students of the state-run PU College in Karnataka’s Udupi arrived at the institution sporting the hijab. They were stopped by the principal from entering the classroom, as the attire failed to ensure uniformity in the classroom. This snowballed into a massive protest, with political parties of the opposition supporting these girls and their right to wear religious garb.

In response, the Hindu students came in wearing saffron scarfs. But they were deemed “terrorists” by some media outlets because in secular India, wearing the hijab is a right, while carrying a scarf of a particular color translates to fascism and hooliganism.

The issue is now being considered by the State High Court, where the opposition-backed lawyer representing the Muslim women was seen referring to Islamic religious restrictions that forbid women from exposing their neck and hands once she starts menstruating. (Did someone say hijab is a choice and not a restriction?) An average Indian girl starts menstruating at the age of 10 and 15 years. Is it not perplexing that an argument this absurd was presented at the court of secular democracy? Is India inching towards its total Islamization? One wonders after witnessing this travesty at the court.

While the case was still being considered, on Tuesday, February 8, some Muslims in the area resorted to stone-pelting, injuring around 40 students and several policemen. Police had to throw tear gas and carry out a baton charge, and eventually imposed section 144, which involves restricting “a certain number of people or people in general from certain acts in the interest of law and order or general well-being of people.” Though police have not confirmed which side engaged in this violence, videos going viral on the Internet show skull-cap wearing men participating in the mayhem. We have not independently verified these videos. Two Muslim men, identified as Abdul Majeed and Rajab, were caught brandishing lethal weapons at the protest site. Both have multiple criminal cases pending against them.

The protest of Muslim women demanding their right to wear a hijab has now spread to other parts of the country, including the national capital region. This is reminiscent of the Shaheen Bagh protests that culminated in violence, riots and bloodshed in Delhi. Cartoons and memes applauding the bravado of these women demanding their right to wear the hijab in an educational institution have become widespread across the Internet. Signs have gone up in the middle of streets, reading, “Hijab first, books next.” Every political party eyeing the large bloc of Muslim votes in the state elections to be held this year and next year are jumping on the “support hijab” bandwagon.

Representatives of the Communist Party, which, with support of Muslim groups, banned the hijab in the educational institutions of the only state they rule, have given immense support to the Muslim women demanding their right to cover up from Karnataka government ruled by the nationalist party. Some Muslim groups have offered cash prizes as bravery awards to students protesting for the hijab. The feminist and social activist Malala, who once described the burqa as a “shuttlecock with only a grille to see through,” has voiced her support for the burqa-clad Muslim women entering Indian institutions.

As the tension escalates and reaches other parts of the country and Muslims get branded as a suppressed minority, we need to turn the clock back to 1947. In 1947, India became a free country, but not before suffering a bloody partition to accommodate the demand for a separate Islamic country by Islamists and their leaders. After creating Pakistan as an Islamic country, ambitious political leaders of India decided to uphold India as a religiously neutral country, assuring the Muslims of safety and equality if they wished to be citizens of this secular democracy. The Muslim who desired an Islamic heaven had moved to Pakistan, but those who stayed back were expected to dwell in India as equal citizens.

But for many Muslims, equality is just eyewash; privilege is preferred. Hence the entitled minority got halal food, state-run Islamic schools, state-sponsored Hajj, Islamic personnel law, prayer rooms in government establishments, time out for prayers while at work, liberty to gather in roads, halting traffic to offer prayers – you name it, they got it. Restaurants, including Western food chains, operating in the Hindu-majority country are serving halal food because Muslims won’t touch non-halal food. Where is the much-touted equality?

Muslim students receiving a mainstream education, however, were wearing regular uniforms. Now, after 75 years of independence, they wake up to their right to dress differently. They haven’t needed these hijabs since 1947 – why now? To impose their religious identity?

How logical is wearing the burqa or hijab in an examination hall, anyway? Can one carry cheating material under the wraps of fabric? You can’t check them, because of “modesty.”

Their advocates say that hijab is prescribed in their Islamic religious texts. The religious texts also suggests killing kafirs (Surah at-Taubah, chapter 9 verse 5 of the Qur’an says, “Kill the Mushriqs where ever you find them”). Are we waiting for Muslims to demand impunity after killing non-believers because that’s a religious right?

India is in a bowl of thick hot soup.

Blitz’s Editorial Board is responsible for the stories published under this byline. This includes editorials, news stories, letters to the editor, and multimedia features on BLiTZ

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