Tuesday, October 04, 2022

India

Indian Muslim women protest banning Hijab

February 18, 2022 07:14 PM
Girls wearing Hijab protest at school gate
Chanchal Manohar Singh

 Any right-thinking person should support Muslim woman’s right to wear Hijab! The common belief is that it is their religion that expects them to be dressed like that. Wearing Hijab is a Muslim woman’s constitutional right. One can see in most of the democratic countries of the West -- USA, Canada, or UK and Germany in Europe -- Muslim women, if not all but a good number, wearing Hijabs while they are out on shopping, visiting schools, colleges, or Universities for study. Hijab is a common sight at places for entertainment or recreation -- restaurants, cinema halls, theatres, and parks. It is a matter of one's choice!

Ours is a democracy.  And everyone has a right to profess and dress the way the religion you follow expects. The Constitution of India supports this as a right of every citizen. Against this light, vandalism and gundagardi by bhagwa-scarf clad boys in Karnataka colleges or educational institutions is nothing but majoritarianism, another ploy to keep the Muslim issues alive and dividing the society on communal lines to polarise voters in the poll-bound States. Small wonder top BJP leaders, including the country’s Prime Minister or Home Minister, are maintaining a stoic silence. Those at the lower level are busy fanning hatred!

Since 2014 when Narendra Damodaran Das Modi took over the reins of the country, the dividing of the society on religious lines has been a part of the right-wing agenda. The country to a great extent has been split between the majority and Muslims -- other minorities too have been on the radar of IT cell of the BJP to have pot shots. The Muslims have been marginalized. They are continuously under attack from the Majority community under one pretext or the other, be it offering Namaz in open, for their living style, their marriages, and a specially coined design of 'Love Jihad'. Now, the Hijab issue is to prevent Muslim women from wearing it around their head, neck, and partially covering the face. 

We cannot be stereotypes in the modern days and issue diktats on women dress code, may be a Hijab or skirt or any other liberal dress, particularly at an institution of higher studies. Preventing women from wearing religious symbols from entering a college tantamount to gender discrimination in the Secular Socialist Republic like India.  Many Sikh women wearing Keski (Turban) and Kirpan are visible in India, especially in the Northern States besides other countries. Can they stop an Amritdhari Sikh female from entering an examination center or force them to leave kirpans outside? Well, No! But that is what is happening to Muslim women.

The Sikhs are also a minority in India and their number is very low as compared to the population of Muslims and Christians. The ninth Sikh Master Guru Tegh Bahadhur Sahib, sacrificed his life to protect the right to profess the religion of one's option by Kashmiri Pandits. The Sikh leaders and the members of the community, as such, should own responsibility for following the path shown by the Guru and stand behind the Muslim women’s right to wear Hijab.

The Sikhs have been struggling hard and launched a movement in Europe against the France Government’s ban over the wearing of religious symbols in government-run educational institutions. There the law prevented even Christians from displaying CROSS, a religious Iconic symbol of the believers of Christianity.  But the French government passed the law and did not budge to change it facing peaceful protests by the Sikh community the world over.

Top Sikh lawyers from Punjab and Haryana High Court challenged the law first in France’s top court. Losing their case there, they approached the world court but failed to get justice in this regard. Why? Because France court made the law preventing the use of religious symbols in Government Schools and educational institutions. Private institutions, however, were exempted.

Muslim women protesting against ban on Hijab in Karnataka

This virus of hatred if not stopped immediately would spread to other BJP ruled states, and there is no end to polarising the diverse Indian society. Multiplicity in Indian society is not man-made but an organic concept that developed through thousands of years of people’s belief in peaceful coexistence. It is an intrinsic ingredient of country's fabric.

Already, enough damage has been done to the social tana bana of the society by the politicians of various hues since independence. Indira Gandhi started playing with communal fire by using religion to stay in power. Her soft partisan approach to garner votes of the majority community and to punish the Sikhs for launching peaceful Morchas against her repressive Emergency.  Over 55, 000 Sikh men and women, including mothers carrying their toddlers in laps, responded to the call and filled jails by raising voice against the Emergency. The Sikh community which is just two percent of the country’s population was targeted after her death too.

Since 2014 when Narendra Damodaran Das Modi took over the reins of the country, the dividing of the society on religious lines has been a part of the right-wing agenda. The country to a great extent has been split between the majority and Muslims -- other minorities too have been on the radar of IT cell of the BJP to have pot shots. The Muslims have been marginalized. They are continuously under attack from the Majority community under one pretext or the other, be it offering Namaz in open, for their living style, their marriages, and a specially coined design of 'Love Jihad'. Now, the Hijab issue is to prevent Muslim women from wearing it around their head, neck, and partially covering the face. 

After Ram Mandir, Kashi and Mathura are being made the 'mudda' of the 2024 elections. Unless stopped henceforth the agenda of appeasing some and displeasing others can run India aground in the coming time! The rot has to stop now and let India bask in the once glorious tradition of Ganga-Jamuni 'tehzeeb'.

And at the same time, India is in the eye of world leaders on the hijab row, and some world leaders have criticised this development.  After the United States and some other European countries waded in the Karnataka hijab row, the ministry of external affairs on Saturday said that “motivated comments” on India's internal issues are not welcome. The ministry said in a statement that the matter regarding dress code is under judicial examination and the issues are resolved through its constitutional framework and mechanism.

“A matter regarding dress code in some educational institutions in the State of Karnataka is under judicial examination by the Hon'ble High Court of Karnataka, ” the ministry said.

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