One hijab-clad student in India’s Karnataka state retaliated by shouting back “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) after being heckled and jeered for wearing the garment by a mob of Hindutva supporters on Tuesday, stirring outrage and sparking protests after schools in the state refused entry to students wearing the hijab.
Muskan Khan parked her scooter in the parking of her college in Mandya and was subsequently beset by a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) mob which shouted at her and tried to surround her. Unfazed by their chants of “Jai Shri Raam”, she continued walking towards her college building in footage that soon went viral on social media.
“Since I started studying [here], I’ve always worn the burqa and hijab. When I entered class, I removed the burqa… [the] principal has said nothing, outsiders started this,” she told NDTV.
“I was just there to submit an assignment; that’s why I entered the college. They were not allowing me to go inside just because I was [wearing] the burqa,” Muskan told a local news channel.
“After that, they started shouting the slogan “Jai Shri Ram” (Hail Lord Ram). Then I started to scream “Allahu Akbar” (God is great),” she said, adding that she would keep fighting for her right to wear the hijab.
“We will continue (our protests) because it (wearing a hijab) is a part of being a Muslim girl. They (friends from other communities) even supported us,” she added.
A ban on Islamic headscarves or hijab at schools has prompted an outcry among Muslims in southern India, with large crowds taking to the streets to protest against the restrictions.
Government of Modi draws condemnation
The harassment of Muskan drew the ire of some Bollywood celebrities, media personalities, intellectuals, and politicians, who condemned the Modi government for taking the country to that low.
Following the failure to control the situation, the Karnataka chief minister announced the closure of all schools and colleges in the state for three days after violence broke out in several districts over students wearing hijab on campus.
It has been a month since the students of a state-run school in Karnataka’s Udupi district started their campaign after they were banned from entering their classrooms while wearing hijab. The story cascaded across the internet, and the students began protesting outside the school gate, reading their lessons.
Instead of pacifying the situation, other schools also started enforcing a ban on the hijab, out of fears of RSS supporters who also simultaneously started shouting pro-Hindutva slogans to worsen the situation.
The state machinery seemed to be helpless before the group. Instead, some ruling party members issued statements to defend the ban on the hijab which encouraged RSS members to provoke the situation.
Several meetings between the staff, government representatives, and the protesting students have failed to resolve the issue so far. The state’s education minister also refused to lift the ban.
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