The Karnataka hijab row started after a few students in Udupi Government Pre-University College started wearing hijab last month and were turned out of classrooms. While the students refused to attend classes without hijab, the college administration remained firm on its stand. The controversy snowballed after some students sought to defy the government order mandating a uniform style of clothes.

The Hijab ban issue has refused to die down as Muslim girls are adamant on wearing hijab to college. The controversy is finding resonance in street protests and social media outrage across the country. Muslim girls argue that ban on Hijab violates right to freedom of religion enshrined in Constitution.

The ‘hijab’ controversy has now reached the Karnataka High Court and Supreme Court, but, on the other hand, some Muslim organizations have already started staging protest demonstrations in different cities, including Delhi and Aligarh. This is surely a matter of concern.

The Karnataka High Court is hearing a clutch of petitions challenging the government order banning the hijab in government educational institutions. On Thursday, Feb 10, a three-judge bench of Karnataka High Court gave an interim order saying no religious clothes should be worn by students in schools and colleges. The high court asked the state government to immediately reopen all educational institutions, and posted the matter for further hearing on Monday. The Karnataka government immediately ordered reopening of all schools for classes 9 and 10 from Monday, but pre-university and degree colleges will remain closed until further notice.

The Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court Wednesday constituted a three-judge bench, including himself, to hear a batch of petitions questioning a ban on the use of hijabs in a few pre-university colleges in the state after a single-judge bench of the court had decided to refer the pleas to a larger bench saying the case involved larger Constitutional issues.

Headed by Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, the three-judge bench, referred to as a full bench of the High Court, will also include Justice Krishna S Dixit, who referred the matter to a larger bench, and Justice Khazi Jaibunnisa Mohiuddin. Justice Mohiuddin is a woman judge who took oath as an additional judge of the High Court in March last year.

The special bench will hear Thursday a total of five petitions on the hijab row on behalf of 18 girls from colleges in the Udupi region.

The high court on Friday put out the full copy of its order after initially issuing oral orders on Thursday at the end of a hearing for interim relief on the issue regarding whether a ban on Muslim girls wearing the hijab in classrooms in some colleges in the state is a violation of their fundamental right to freedom of religion.

The high court on Friday put out the full copy of its order after initially issuing oral orders on Thursday at the end of a hearing for interim relief on the issue regarding whether a ban on Muslim girls wearing the hijab in classrooms in some colleges in the state is a violation of their fundamental right to freedom of religion.

“The interest of students would be better served by their returning to the classes than by the continuation of agitations and consequent closure of institutions. The academic year is coming to an end shortly,” the high court full bench comprising Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi, Justice Krishna S Dixit, and Justice J M Khazi stated in the interim order.

“Elongation of academic terms would be detrimental to the educational career of students especially when the timelines for admission to higher studies/courses are mandatory,” the court said while directing the reopening of colleges in the state.

“In the above circumstances, we request the state government, and all other stakeholders to reopen the educational institutions and allow the students to return to the classes at the earliest,” the order said.

“Pending consideration of all these petitions, we restrain all the students regardless of their religion or faith from wearing saffron shawls (Bhagwa) scarfs, hijab, religious flags or the like, within the classroom, until further orders,” the order states.

“We make it clear that this order is confined to such of the institutions wherein the College Development Committees have prescribed the student dress code/uniform,” the court said.

The high court also expressed pain over the agitation. “Firstly, we are pained by the ongoing agitations and closure of educational institutions since the past few days, especially when this Court is seized of this matter and important issues of constitutional significance and of personal law are being seriously debated,” it said.

“It hardly needs to be mentioned that ours is a country of plural cultures, religions, and languages. Being a secular State, it does not identify itself with any religion as its own. Every citizen has the right to profess and practice any faith of choice is true,” the court said.

It also added that the right to freedom of religion was not absolute. “However, such a right not being absolute is susceptible to reasonable restrictions as provided by the Constitution of India. Whether wearing of hijab in the classroom is part of the essential religious practice of Islam in the light of constitutional guarantees, needs a deeper examination.”

“Ours being a civilized society, no person in the name of religion, culture or the like can be permitted to do any act that disturbs public peace and tranquillity. Endless agitations and closure of educational institutions indefinitely are not happy things to happen. The hearing of these matters on an urgent basis is continuing,” the full bench said.

Multiple petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court over the hijab case. Some students in Karnataka have now approached the Supreme Court against the interim order passed by the high court on the ongoing hijab row. Fresh pleas by Karnataka students will be mentioned before the Supreme Court for an urgent hearing.

Meanwhile, Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen staged protest in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh locality. The protesters marched from Abul Fazal Enclave to Shahid Bilal Mosque shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ slogans. Ultra-leftist All India Students Association (AISA) also held a protest outside Karnataka Bhavan in Delhi, but were prevented by police from moving forward. A similar protest took place in Aligarh Muslim University campus.

 

A Look at The Different Islamic Clothing for Women

The following are the different kinds of Islamic clothing women wear around the world:

Burqa:

Burqas and niqabs are often confused. Niqabs cover the face, but leave the eyes uncovered, while burqas cover the entire body, from the top of the head to the ground, with only a small screen allowing the wearer to see in front.

 

Women in Burqa

Hijab: 

A hijab, which covers the chest and head, is a type of veil worn by some Muslim women in the presence of strangers or males outside of their immediate families.

 

A girl in Hijab 

Niqab: 

Essentially, the niqab is a veil that covers the face, but leaves the eye area uncovered. An eye veil may accompany it. Usually, it is worn with a headscarf. It is often worn by Muslim women as part the hijab.


Women in Niqab

Dupatta: 

Hijab is sometimes worn in the dupatta style, mainly by young women. In this, the whole neck is covered. The Dupatta style is distinguished by its bright colours and beautiful embroidery, generally matched with the outfit.

A girl wearing Dupatta

Chador: 

A large cloth worn by Muslim women especially in Iran as a combination head covering, veil, and shawl. Iraq, and some other countries under the Persianate cultural sphere, as well as predominantly Shia areas, also wear the cloak as an outer garment or open cloak in public spaces.

Women wearing Chador

Abaya: 

An abaya is a garment worn by women around the globe. It’s long-sleeved, black in style, floor-long. … The sleeves are made of the same fabric; they are not stitched on individually. The abaya can be worn with other clothes, like a scarf covering the hair.

    

 


A girl in an Abaya dress

 

Now, A Look at Many Countries Across the World, Where Governments Have Made It an Offence If Any Woman Wears A ‘Hijab’ Or ‘Burqa’ Or ‘Abaya’.

Switzerland: From 2021, Switzerland, with a 51.2 per cent of voters’ backing, banned wearing of full-face coverings in public places.

Netherlands: since August, 2019, there is ban on wearing of burqas, veils and balaclavas, with 150 euros fine. The ban was imposed after 14 years of debate.

France: Since 2011, France has banned wearing of all face coverings, that include headgear, helmets, balaclavas, niqabs. The ban also includes burqa if it covers the face.

Shri Lanka: In Sri Lanka, the cabinet has cleared a proposal to ban wearing of face coverings in public places due to ‘national security concerns’, but the proposal is yet to be implemented.

Belgium: Belgium has banned wearing of full-face coverings, including burqa, since 2011. However, last year, wearing of hijab was permitted in universities in a French-speaking region in Belgium.

China: China has clamped a complete ban on wearing of veils and burqas, including abnormal beard, in Muslim-dominated Xinjiang since 2017 citing threats from ‘religious extremism’.

Denmark: In Denmark, there is a ban on wearing of burqas since 2018, with a fine of 135 Euros.

Austria:  In Austria, there is a law since 2017 against wearing of veils. It bans covering from hairline till chins, and offenders will have to pay 150 Euros for committing offence.

Bulgaria: In Bulgaria, the ban is in force since 2016 against covering of faces in public, but it allows wearing of veils in place of worship.

Germany: Two provinces in Germany have also banned wearing of veils or niqab in public places and schools.

Norway: Norway has banned wearing of niqab or hijab by students or teachers in schools since 2018.

Russia: In Stavropol region of Russia, there is a ban on wearing of hijab in public places.

In July last year, the European Union’s highest court upheld a 2017 ruling allowing employers to forbid women from wearing headscarves at work places.

Kazakhstan: In some regions of Kazakhstan, wearing of hijab, niqab and headscarves have been banned in schools and also in public.

Uzbekistan: There is a ban on sale of religious face coverings in Uzbekistan since 2012, and the imam of a mosque was sacked when he appealed to the President to lift the ban on hijab for women and beards for men.

Canada: Canada banned wearing of face veils including niqab in 2011, for all those women, who have taken Canadian citizenship oaths, but this order was later reversed by a court in 2016.

In July last year, the European Union’s highest court upheld a 2017 ruling allowing employers to forbid women from wearing headscarves at work places. Two provinces in Germany have also banned wearing of veils or niqab in public places and schools. Norway has banned wearing of niqab or hijab by students or teachers in schools since 2018. In Stavropol region of Russia, there is a ban on wearing of hijab in public places.