Schools Closed as Ban on Hijab Leads to Protests in India

Wednesday, 09 February 2022 – 18:56 GMT+7
Schools Closed as Ban on Hijab Leads to Protests in India - English
Activists from the Indian National Student Union demonstrate in Bangalore against a Karnataka state law banning the wearing of the hijab in schools, Wednesday (9/2) / Credit: MANJUNATH KIRAN, AFP, INDIA - The southern Indian state of Karnataka ordered the closure of schools and colleges for three days, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said on Tuesday, after a ban on the hijab in schools resulted in protests.

Last week, local media reported that schools in the coastal city of Udupi were refusing Muslim girls wearing headscarves to come to school, citing an order from the Education Ministry, sparking protests from parents and students.

Tensions in Karnataka, a region where 12 percent of the population is Muslim, have escalated in recent days when students in saffron scarves - usually worn by Hindus - thronged the classroom to show their support for the hijab ban at school.

The government of Karnataka, which is controlled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), issued an order that all schools must follow the dress code set by management.

Education Minister Karnataka B.C. Nagesh, who posted the order on Twitter, said the dress code in schools had been established following a review of court decisions from across the country to ban the hijab in educational institutions.

Opposition parties and critics have accused the BJP government at the federal and state levels of discriminating against religious minorities and potentially inciting violence.

Modi defended his ideas and claimed that his social and economic policies benefited all Indians.

The case of one of the students involved, who wrote on a petition that wearing the hijab is a basic religious right guaranteed by the constitution, was heard at the Karnataka High Court in the capital Bengaluru on Tuesday.

Schools and colleges are closed for for three days after a ban on the hijab resulted in protests.