‘If Bangles, Turbans Allowed, Why Not Hijab?’ Muslim Students’ Counsel Asks HC

New Delhi: If symbols of non-Islamic religions, like turbans, bangles, etc. are allowed in the educational institutions of Karnataka, why is the same logic not extended to the hijab, counsel for the young women who are being denied access to education because of their clothing choices asked the Karnataka high court on Wednesday.

“If there are 100 symbols, why is the government picking on only hijab?…Bangles are worn. Why only pick on these poor Muslims girls?” senior advocate Ravivarma Kumar. He also referred to Article 15 of the Constitution, saying “Goonghat is permitted, bangles are permitted, Why not ban on crucifix of Christians. Why not turban of Sikhs?”

The bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justices Krishna S. Dixit and J.M. Khazi is hearing a bunch of petitions filed by female Muslim students of government colleges, who have not been allowed to attend classes unless they agree to take off their hijabs.

“If people wearing the turban can be in the army, why can a person wearing a religious symbol—(it’s) her right to practice her religion—not be allowed to attend classes. It is a draconian decision where universal education is desired, particularly girls’ education. The court may take judicial note of the fact that among girls, Muslim girls are the least educated and the least represented in classrooms. If they are shut out on the grounds of such discrimination, that would amount to the doomsday for their education,” he said.

The petitioners’ counsel also pointed out that there is no law or uniform rule with bars students from wearing a hijab.

Justice Dixit responded, according to Bar and Bench, “Because these are not spoken of in the Act, need not mean it might be permitted. It is true that it does not say hijab should be permitted or not permitted. But it has to be independently argued.”

Featured image: A hijab wearing schoolgirl holds hands of her classmates as she arrives to attend the classes at a government girls school after the recent hijab ban, in Udupi town in the southern state of Karnataka, India, February 16, 2022. Photo: Reuters/Sunil Kataria

This article was first published on The Wire.