Five young women in Karnataka’s Udupi – the Supreme Court today rejected a request to allow her to be allowed in classrooms – have told the media they have been denied “fundamental rights” and feel “betrayed by the country”. Emphasizing that “the issue of hijab, which should be resolved at the local level, has now taken on a political and community connotation,” they said they would not leave the university because of the setback.
In the midst of a major riot over handkerchiefs that erupted in December last year, women went to court because the constitutionally protected hijab in Islam is an essential practice and there is no law banning its use in educational institutions.
“We want a hijab. We will not go to college without a hijab,” they said at a news conference this afternoon, stressing that women’s headscarves are a key component of their religion and are mentioned in the Koran.
According to the Supreme Court order, “the Qur’an states that a girl must cover her hair and breast.”
“If this wasn’t mentioned in the Qur’an, we wouldn’t be wearing it. We wouldn’t be fighting if this wasn’t mentioned in the Qur’an,” said a girl who identified herself as Alia.
In a ruling today, the Karnataka High Court has ruled that wearing a hijab is not a fundamental religious practice of Islam.
“We believe that the wearing of the hijab by Muslim women is not part of the core religious practice of the Islamic faith,” the three judges said, dismissing the state government’s ban and rejecting student demands.
The quarrel began in January, when teachers at a school in Udupi refused to remove their headscarves and stop using them, despite a request from teachers. Five students then went to court.
As the protests spread, part of the students appeared in saffron scarves, arguing that they were also associated with religious identity. Dalit students took blue to show their support for the hijab.