Indian college bars Muslim women from classes for wearing hijab
By Ahmad Adil
NEW DELHI (AA): A group of Muslim students at a college in the southern Indian state of Karnataka have been prevented from attending classes for weeks after their principal refused to let them wear the hijab (headscarf) in the classroom.
The college authorities, however, say the students are violating the rules laid down by the management.
According to representatives of the Muslim community in Udupi district, where the government-run women’s college is located, the standoff continues between the authorities and the group of students, who are listening to lectures from outside their classrooms.
Abdul Azeez, who is associated with a local Muslim group based in Udupi, confirmed Monday to Anadolu Agency that the college administration is not allowing the use of headscarves in the classrooms.
“They (authorities) are allowing the use of headscarves inside the campus, but not inside the classes. This issue started when a group of students started putting on the hijab inside their classes, which is not allowed by the college management,” he said.
“The college says they have rules in place and can’t change them suddenly. They also question if these students were not doing it earlier, why they have suddenly done it.”
Azeez said their demand is now that the authorities should allow the use of headscarves of the color similar to the student uniform.
“We are trying to resolve the matter through talks,” he added.
The college’s Development Committee Vice President Yashpal Suvarna, who is also a local leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), told Anadolu Agency that the students are “breaking the rules.”
“The college is one of the most prominent ones in terms of quality education. In the last 35 years, such an issue has never come up. But today it is being created. A student has to follow the rules and regulations,” he said.
“A number of students from the minority community are studying there, and no one has raised such an issue so far.”
He said only four students are part of the group who want to wear headscarves inside the classrooms.
“We have told them if they want to attend the classes, they have to follow the rules.”
Maulana Mohammed Maqsood Imran Rasheedi, a top Muslim cleric in the state, told Anadolu Agency that efforts are underway to resolve the matter.
“The matter shouldn’t be politicized, and we have started our efforts to get this matter resolved soon,” he said.
Earlier this month, tensions erupted at two government colleges in the state’s Balagadi village and Mangaluru after a group of students turned up wearing saffron scarves, the color favored by the BJP, and also asked their female classmates from the Muslim community not to wear the hijab during classes.
The authorities subsequently banned hijabs and saffron scarves on the campus.
[Map of India by US State Dept/Public Domain]
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