Indian state government backs hijab ban in schools, colleges

Indian state government backs hijab ban in schools, colleges
A state government in India has banned school clothes that 'disturb equality, integrity and public law' amid a heated row over denying Muslim girls entry to education institutions because of their hijab.
2 min read
07 February, 2022
A petition against hijab restrictions will be heard by the state's high court on Tuesday [source: Getty]

A state government in India issued an order on Saturday banning school students from wearing clothes that "disturb equality" amid a heated row over denying hijab-wearing girls entry into classrooms. 

The Karnataka government released the directive in response to several protests by young Muslim women who have been barred from schools and colleges because of their head coverings. 

The directive, which comes ahead of a high court ruling on the case, cited passages from the state’s education act that decreed everyone must wear the same uniform because they are part of a common family. 

The order made it clear that schools have the authority to set uniform stands. 

"In the event of [the] administrative committee not selected a uniform, clothes which disturb equality, integrity and public law and order should not be worn," the directive said.    

The row over hijabs in education institutions started in Udupi, a city in Karnataka, when a handful of Muslim girls were accused of violating the college dress code and got sent out the classroom.

There were reports of similar incidents in Belagavi and Chikkamagaluru, also cities in Karnataka, according to India’s Economic Times. 

On Monday, posts on social media claimed Muslim girls were allowed on campus in parts of the state, but they were seated in separate classrooms. 

The state's high court will hear a petition on Tuesday filed by five girls studying in a government college in Udupi who have argued the directive is a violation of fundamental rights. 

India’s two major political parties have both weighed in on Karnataka's hijab-wearing debate. The opposition Congress vocalised support for girls wearing hijabs while the ruling BJP party said it would not allow “Talibanisation” of education institutions, according to Geo TV. 

There has also been controversy in the Indian state over Hindu students wearing saffron scarves in schools.

Pupils wore the scarves in response to the hijab-wearing row, with some arguing it was only fair they were also allowed to wear them, according to the Times of India. 

Last week’s order made it clear that saffron scarves were not accepted as school uniform.