Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai has weighed in on the controversy over Muslim students alleging that they were not allowed to enter campuses and classrooms wearing the hijab in Karnataka. The girls’ education activist tweeted that “refusing to let girls go to school in their hijabs is horrifying.”
The hijab protests began last month at the Government Girls PU College in Karnataka’s Udupi when six students alleged that they had been barred from classes for insisting on wearing the headscarf. Right-wing groups in Udupi and Chikkamagaluru objected to Muslim girls wearing the hijab to class.
Soon, the controversy spilled beyond the borders of Karnataka and surfaced in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh and Puducherry. A minister in Madhya Pradesh ruled in favour of “discipline” and a “uniform dress code”. In Puducherry, the authorities have asked the head of a government school to investigate allegations of a teacher objecting to headscarves in class.
Ms Yousafzai, taking note of the developments, tweeted, “Refusing to let girls go to school in their hijabs is horrifying. Objectification of women persists – for wearing less or more. Indian leaders must stop the marginalisation of Muslim women.”
All schools and colleges in Karnataka will be shut for the next three days. Chief Minister Basavaraj S Bommai has appeals “to maintain peace and harmony”. The Karnataka High Court is hearing petitions filed by five women from a government college in Udupi, questioning hijab restrictions. The hearing will continue today.