Karnataka hijab row: Hearing in high court resumes
Karnataka: Following a debate over the hijab that drew international attention after Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai chimed in, an Indian state has closed high schools and colleges. After student protests over Muslim women wearing hijab in the classroom turned violent, the government of Karnataka, in southern India, made the decision. On Wednesday, the state’s supreme court will resume hearings on a petition advocating for Muslim women.
The events came when six teenage students protested wearing hijabs at a government-run institution, and the protests spread to other colleges. To oppose Muslim women wearing hijabs, several Hindu students arrived wearing saffron shawls, a color associated with Hinduism.
Malala Yousafzai, who was 15 when she was attacked by the Taliban in Pakistan for speaking up for girls’ right to education, called on India’s leaders to “stop the marginalization of Muslim women” on Tuesday.The 24-year-old activist wrote, “Refusing to let girls go to school in their hijabs is horrifying.” “Objectification of women persists – for wearing less or more.” The standoff has heightened fear and outrage among India’s minority Muslims, who claim that the country’s constitution allows them to wear whatever they choose.
On Tuesday, viral images surfaced showing a Muslim woman being heckled by a group of young males chanting slogans, as well as heated debates between students wearing hijabs and saffron shawls. The judge hearing the case made an unusual request to students and others to “keep peace and serenity.”
Six teenage students at a government-run pre-university college – equal to a high school – in Karnataka’s Udupi district began protesting after being excluded from classes because they wore a hijab. Udupi is one of three districts in Karnataka’s communally sensitive coastal area, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party has a stronghold (BJP). Commentators frequently refer to the region as a test bed for Hindu majoritarianism. The BJP is also in power in Karnataka.
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