New Delhi, Feb 10 (PTI) More than 1,000 feminists, democratic groups, collectives, academicians, lawyers and individuals from various walks of life came together to condemn the “targeting and exclusion” of hijab-wearing Muslim students on Thursday, while alleging that the head scarf is only the latest pretext to impose an “apartheid” on Muslim women.
In an open letter signed by over 1,850 people, the signatories stated that they firmly believe that the Constitution mandates schools and colleges to nurture plurality, not uniformity.
“Uniforms in such institutions are meant to minimise the differences between students of different and unequal economic classes. They are not intended to impose cultural uniformity on a plural country. This is why Sikhs are allowed to wear turbans not only in the classroom but even in police and the Army,” they said.
“This is why Hindu students wear bindi/pottu/tilak/vibhuti with school and college uniforms without comment or controversy. And likewise, Muslim women should be able to wear hijabs with their uniforms,” they added.
The letter further states that “making hijabi women sit in separate classrooms or move from colleges of their choice to Muslim-run colleges is nothing but apartheid”.
The letter was endorsed by more than 130 groups across 15 states, including All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA), National Federation of Indian Women, Bebaak Collective, Saheli Women’s Resource Centre, Awaaz-e-Nizwan, National Alliance of People’s Movements, Forum Against Oppression of Women, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Dalit Women’s Collective, National Federation of Dalit Women, Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression and Feminists In Resistance.
Protests for and against the hijab have intensified in parts of Karnataka. The demonstrations turned violent in some places on Tuesday after the government in the southern state issued an order last week making uniforms prescribed by it or the management of private institutions mandatory for students in schools and pre-university colleges.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress have hit out at each other over the controversy.
Activists of the Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) had put up banners in Maharashtra’s Beed city on Monday in support of hijab for Muslim students. PTI UZM RC
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