An incident of female students being barred from entering classrooms in Karnataka’s Udipi for covering their heads with hijabs was reported earlier this month. The incident happened in a pre-university college in Udipi after a group of students protested against wearing hijabs in college and showed up wearing saffron shawls as a sign of protest.
The students were not allowed to be in the class until they removed their Hijabs. One of the students said that they were not given attendance for the day they came to school with Hijabs. They were also asked not to speak in Urdu and Arabic. After these students objected to this unofficial ban of headscarves, the authorities claimed that hijabs were never a part of the official dress code and, to retain uniformity in the college, the students were asked not to wear Hijabs as wearing Hijabs was a violation of the dress code. These six Muslim students have been marked absent since December 31, 2021.
This isn’t the only incident of students being barred from wearing a Hijab. Another state-run college in Chikkamagaluru banned hijabs. The college authorities said that no religious activity would be allowed or promoted in the college.
Hijab is a part of the Islamic identity of Muslim women. It is the fundamental right of every citizen to carry out their customs in their own way. The Indian constitution gives the right to freedom of religion to every citizen of the country, and sadly, these days women of the Muslim community have been barred from this constitutional right. Incidents like these aren’t only discriminatory against the women of the community but also show the sheer rise of Islamophobia and hatred against Muslims.
In the year 2018, a woman was forced to remove her Hijab from the examination centre in Bombay. These incidents are undemocratic, unconstitutional, and discriminatory to the women of the Muslim community. Wearing a hijab and covering the body isn’t only a part of religious identification but also a way of showing resistance and establishing their identity in a world that has always been discriminatory against the community.
Women’s bodies have been seen as the subject of politics since the establishment of civilization. Looking at the societal bar of the communities, the rights, and opinions of women coming from the Muslim community have been denied and neglected for ages. Incidents like these exclude the women of the community from their fundamental right to education and humiliate them publicly.
These incidents of banning a piece of clothing are political and gendered in all contexts. Men never face issues like these when choosing the attire they want to wear. They never have to go through the policing of picking what they want to wear and what not to. Such rules and regulations have only been subjected to women. This shows the deep-rooted Sexism and misogyny used to suppress Muslim Women. These incidents take the form of abuse, harassment, and discrimination against them on both online and offline platforms.
Discrimination and hatred against the minority communities are increasing every single day in India. Hate crimes have been prevalent since the coming of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party to power. Muslim women were auctioned by Hindu right-wing men on social platforms. Two incidents of auctioning were reported in a few months. Sulli Deal and Bulli Bai were the names of the apps created by Hindutva right-wing men and derogatory terms were used for them. Society and the mainstream media have always stereotyped Muslim women as the ideal victim with no identity of their own and being guarded by the men of the family, especially now as women from the community are trying to break the barriers and take active participation in the current politics, which doesn’t fit well with the hate-mongers and Hindu Vigilantes.
Recently, a group of men, and unfortunately, women from the Hindu community were heard taking active participation in an audio conferencing app called Clubhouse. The subject of discussion was rape and exclusion of Muslim women. The participants of the audio conferencing, by all means, were sexually fetishizing Muslim women, which has always been prevalent in society. In the case of the auctioning of Muslim women on the apps, actions were taken after so many days. How are the people of the community supposed to believe in the law and system?
Hindutva leaders have been delivering speeches on the Muslim Genocide. People from the community are being lynched, and the supreme leaders have been doing nothing but igniting the fire of intense communal hatred by giving speeches. People are living in fear of their lives due to saffron polarization. This is something we should all be scared of.
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