A court in India upholds ban on hijab in classrooms in Karnataka state

FILE PHOTO: Hijab-wearing schoolgirls arrive to attend their classes while a policewoman stands guard at a state girls' school in the town of Udupi
FILE PHOTO: Hijab-wearing students arrive for class while a policewoman stands guard outside a government girls’ school in the town of Udupi, in the southern state of Karnataka, India, February 16, 2022 following the recent hijab ban. REUTERS/Sunil Kataria

March 15, 2022

By Krishna N Das

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – An Indian court on Tuesday upheld a ban on hijab in the classroom in Karnataka state, a ruling that could set a precedent for the rest of the country with a large Muslim minority.

Last month’s ban by the southern state sparked protests from some Muslim students and parents, and counter-protests from Hindu students. The dispute has led to criticism that Muslims in the country are being further marginalized.

“We reasonably consider that the wearing of hijab by Muslim women is not part of essential religious practice,” Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi of the Karnataka High Court said in the ruling.

He said the government has the power to dictate uniform guidelines and dismissed various petitions against the order.

Before the ruling, Karnataka authorities announced the closure of schools and colleges and imposed restrictions on public gatherings in some parts of the state to forestall potential problems.

Last month, German Interior Minister Amit Shah said he would prefer students to wear school uniforms rather than religious attire.[[[[

Students who challenged the ban in court said wearing the headscarf is a fundamental right guaranteed in India’s constitution and an essential practice of Islam. Reuters was unable to contact the challengers immediately.

Karnataka’s ban had sparked protests in some other parts of the country as well, drawing criticism from the United States and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation.

(Reporting by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Christopher Cushing) A court in India upholds ban on hijab in classrooms in Karnataka state

Bobby Allyn

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