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Indian court blocks Muslim women from wearing hijab

Demonstration in New Delhi after educational institutes in India denied entry to students for wearing hijabs on 8 February 2022 [Amarjeet Kumar Singh/Anadolu Agency]
Demonstration in New Delhi after educational institutes in India denied entry to students for wearing hijabs on 8 February 2022 [Amarjeet Kumar Singh/Anadolu Agency]

The High Court in the southern Indian state of Karnataka blocked students, Thursday, from wearing religious garments until a case on the matter is decided, Anadolu News Agency reports.

A three-judge panel was hearing the case to decide if schools and colleges can order students not to wear the hijab or headscarves in classrooms.

"We will pass an order that let the institutions start, but till the matter is pending, these students and stakeholders will not insist on wearing any religious garment or head dress. We will restrain everyone," said the panel, led by Chief Justice, Ritu Raj Awasth.

The case will be heard again on Monday.

A group of Muslim women filed petitions against the order of the government banning the hijab on college premises.

The Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO) said the court's order is a direct infringement of Muslim women's fundamental right to practice their faith, as well as their fundamental right to education without discrimination.

READ: The rise of Hindutva fascism belies India's claim to be a secular democracy

"The Karnataka High Court has equated hijab – an article of faith – with saffron shawl – a politically motivated gimmick – and, essentially, asked Muslim women to suspend observance of their faith till the High Court hears the matter," the group's National Secretary, Fawaz Shaheen, said in a statement.

"This displays a complete lack of understanding of the issue at hand, as well as the simple fact that, for a believing person articles of faith are not optional protocols to be picked up or abandoned at a mere whim," he added.

Protests were organised in cities Thursday in support of women demanding to wear the hijab in schools and colleges.

The row erupted after a college in Karnataka told students to take off their headscarves inside the classroom.

Those protesting the move cited the Constitution that allows Indians to wear clothes of their choice and display religious symbols.

According to the Constitution, every citizen has the right to practice, profess and propagate religion. The right can be curtailed only on grounds of public order, morality and health.

Indian Muslims have witnessed a deterioration of the right to practice their faith under the rule of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and his right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

READ: Hijab row escalates further in India

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