Hijab dispute threatens to escalate in India

EIndia’s state shuts all high schools and colleges for three days after a row over girls wearing headscarves The conflict in southern India’s Karnataka, which is now causing tensions between Hindu and Muslim students, began when a public university banned Muslim women from wearing what they wear. called hijab in class. Six students at the school in the city of Udupi have refused to recognize the hijab ban and, according to their own statement, have been kicked out of class for weeks.

The Karnataka Supreme Court has since urged students in the state to maintain peace and tranquility. But the conflict has long been widening. Muslim women have demonstrated in Udupi in recent days for the recognition of their rights. At another college, groups of Hindu and Muslim students clashed, trying to beat each other with chants and throwing stones at each other. A video of a woman wearing a headscarf and headscarf being attacked and harassed by a group of men on her way to her school has also circulated on social media. He was unfazed and raised his own fist. He answered the man’s cry “Jai Shri Ram” (“Glory be to Lord Rama!”) with “Allahu Akbar” (“God is Great”).

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The dispute is now attracting attention outside India. “Barring girls from going to school with headscarves is appalling,” wrote Pakistani Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai. in twitter. And: “India’s political leadership must end the marginalization of Muslim women.” In fact, human rights activists have long complained of the increasingly hostile climate towards religion and other minorities in India. In recent weeks and months in particular, attacks on Muslims and, increasingly, Christians have increased. A few weeks ago, some Hindu extremists called for the killing of Muslims in Haridwar city in Uttarakhand state. A woman in a saffron robe threatened: “If a hundred of us are willing to kill two million of them, then we will win and get the Hindu nation out of India.”

The heated mood is exacerbated by the fact that regional parliaments will be elected in several Indian states in the coming weeks, including starting Thursday in India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh. Polarization along religious lines is a well-known technique in India’s election campaign. Like Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka is ruled by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party. He has been repeatedly accused, especially at the local level, of having connections with Hindu extremists who want to turn a secular and pluralistic constitutional state that guarantees freedom of religion and diversity into a Hindu state. The emblems of these groups, such as saffron-colored scarves, were also found in demonstrations against veiled schoolgirls.

In this case, the picture is further complicated by the fact that, according to press reports, Muslim students are also supported by the student wing of an organization deemed radical Islamists. So far, however, the protesting girls, who have been barred from attending classes, seem quite confident in the argument. They told an Indian journalist that they were fed up with being reduced to a piece of cloth. They also talked to him about their career aspirations over the microphone: one said in English that he wanted to become a wildlife photographer, the other said his dream job was to become a pilot.

Cheryl Tenny

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