Why single out only Islamic symbol? asks NCHRO

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L-R, Karnataka High Court and Hijabi students.

By Special Correspondent

New Delhi:  NCHRO, human rights group, on Thursday   expressed concern over the Karnataka High Court judgment that upheld the Karnataka BJP government’s Hijab ban order. Rights group said it is of the firm opinion that the court verdict requires a rethink. The NCHRO hopes that the Supreme Court, in hearing this matter, will show better judgment.

The judgment has drawn widespread criticism which also described hijab as not essential part of Islam. There are petitions in the Supreme Court challenging the judgment. The Supreme Court is yet to hear them.

However, there have already been instances of students and even professors and teachers resigning because of this judgment, as they are not allowed to enter educational spaces wearing hijab. One fails to understand how barring people from entering educational spaces are going to empower them.

The Karnataka High Court said that wearing the hijab is not an essential part of Islam and has upheld a state government order as regards uniform in educational institutions.

The Karnataka HC judgment is being challenged on the grounds that other religious symbols, such as the Sikh turban, or sindoor or tilak worn by Hindus, are not prohibited in educational institutions. The HC judgment will lead to prohibition of entry for women wearing hijab in educational institutions. Apart from being directed at a particular religion, it is also illiberal.

The Karnataka HC has argued that school uniform does not violate an individual’s personal choice, and that they are supposed to promote harmony by not adhering to religious symbols. It is also illiberal.

“We fail to understand how other religious symbols do not violate such feelings of harmony, and why only the hijab is being singled out. The Court has also argued that hijab is not essential to Islam. This statement is irrelevant, as whether it is essential to a particular religion or not, barring somebody to wear it of their will is illiberal and highly objectionable,” the NCHRO said.

NCHRO urges other civil societies and progressive organizations to come forward and speak up against this judgment. It is undemocratic and undermines   the rights of the people. As a human rights organisation, we are concerned over the judgment as it prevents people from entering educational spaces while wearing a certain piece of cloth. Such a judgment should not go unchallenged, and we hope other progressive organisations will speak against it and challenge it as well.

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