Indian Embassy to RI Responds to Hijab Polemic in Karnataka

Educational institutions insist on enforcing a uniform equality code

REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, JAKARTA — The controversy over the ban on wearing the hijab in educational institutions in the state of Karnataka, India, continues to heat up. The international community has also highlighted this policy.

Reported by Indian Express On Wednesday (02/16/2022) countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) called on the United Nations to investigate allegations of human rights violations against Muslims in India. The OIC Secretariat’s statement via its official Twitter account received a response from the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which said the OIC was carrying out malicious propaganda against India.

The Indian Embassy in the Republic of Indonesia in Jakarta addressed the polemic of the hijab ban in the state of Karnataka. The second secretary of the Embassy of India in the Republic of Indonesia, Avantika Singh, said the events in Karnataka had been brought into the purview of the state’s highest court. According to him, the decision of the Supreme Court is awaited.

Fundamentally, educational institutions insist on adhering to a single, unified code to uphold equality (Translated: In principle, educational institutions insist on enforcing a single uniform code of conduct for the protection of equal rights),” explained Avantika via WhatsApp message to the Republic, Monday (February 14, 2022). Avantika said India’s constitution provides for the right to equality and religious belief. “Therefore we are waiting for the decision of the Constitutional Court, because it is the highest authority in interpreting the Constitution,” he explained.

This case began when a pre-university school in Udupi district, Karnataka, banned six Muslim students from attending classes because they wore hijab. This is in response to the Karnataka state government’s policy of ordering every government-run educational institution to require Muslim students not to wear hijab since last month.

The policy has the support of the ruling party in Karnataka, the Bharatiya Janata (BJP), which is also home to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The six Muslim students also protested in front of the school because they were unable to attend class. On the other hand, Hindu nationalist groups are increasingly demonstrating in support of the Karnataka state government’s policies.

They held demonstrations in front of government educational institutions and prevented female students wearing hijabs from entering school or campus grounds. The Indian Muslim community is not standing still either. They also held counter-demonstrations. They called for the refusal of schools to ban the wearing of the headscarf. Currently, the Karnataka State Court is holding a hearing to decide whether to continue or overturn the policy.

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