Bangalore: The Forum for Women’s Action for Rights and Dignity (FORWARD Trust) hosted a press conference to deliberate on the hijab issue at Press Club of Bangalore today afternoon. The following dignitaries addressed the press conference:
1) Mrs. Cynthia Stephen, Social Activist, Bangalore
2) Mrs. Firdouse Khan, Joint Secretary, Forward Trust, Bangalore
3) Mrs. Kulsum Abubakar, District Organisor, Women’s Wing, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, Udupi
4) Sis. Sumayya Roushan, President, Girls Islamic Organisation Karnataka
5) Sis. Raihanath. AM, Executive Committee Member, Fraternity Movement, Karnataka
6) Mrs. Moina Parveen, Educationalist, Forward Trust, Bangalore
The following press release was issued at the press conference:
Hijab Ban in Institutions:
The recent instances and sequence of Hijab bans in Educational institutions in different districts of Karnataka is alarming.
Muslim girls have been prevented from entering classroom wearing hijab. Five such incidents have been reported till now
in Udupi where Muslim girls are standing outside the college premises pleading to be allowed to attend classes with hijab.
In a recent incident of a Government College at Kundapura, the principal is seen pushing the Muslim girls outside the gates
of the college. The students state that they have been wearing hijab from the beginning and this sudden move of the
college authorities after a few other students protested against the hijab by wearing saffron shawls in classroom is
The Constitution of India forbids any kind of discrimination on the basis of religion, caste, race, gender or place of birth.
Wearing hijab or a headscarf is an important part of practicing faith for muslim women and the students being deprived
of education on the basis of their religion is deplorable. Such intolerance and religious discrimination in institutions is
unconstitutional and is an attack on the fundamental right to practice religion and to live with dignity. The student’s right
to education must be of paramount importance and this cruel act of the college authorities is putting the students in
severe mental stress and agony in view of their upcoming examinations. The inaction of the government to protect the
rights of the students and prevent anti-Muslim sentiments in institutions is very alarming and highly condemnable. These
recurring incidents are creating a very unhealthy environment for different communities to peacefully coexist and a fear
in Muslim girls throughout the state of being shunned of their basic rights. The educational institutions and the authorities
involved in this act are neglecting the importance of cultural diversity in the educational sphere. It is an undisguised
attempt to scare the Muslim girls from pursuing education.
This is the result of the governing authorities normalising hate crimes and Islamophobia. In a previous incident of denial
of permission to observe hijab and modest dressing, the Kerala High Court in a landmark judgment in 2016 observed that
the right of women to have the choice of dress based on religious injunctions is a fundamental right protected under
Article 25, and hijab is an essential part of the Islamic religion.
The government must intervene to uphold the fundamental and constitutional rights of the minorities and the social
diversity of the country. It is the lack of a clear directive from the state government to the school authorities which
emboldens these teachers to maltreat, harass and intimidate Muslim students. Immediate action against the college
authorities must be taken for their irresponsible and inhumane actions against the Muslim students. Peaceful practice of
one’s religion cannot be considered as a threat to discipline and uniformity. The students must be respectfully allowed to
resume their classes with immediate effect and the government must take strong steps to ensure such incidents do not
repeat in other institutions.