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'Hijab bans in schools violate religious freedom': United States reacts to Karnataka row Hijab ban row
In display a candle light protest against hijab ban in Indian city of Kolkata/credit: Avishek Mitra/IBNS

'Hijab bans in schools violate religious freedom': United States reacts to Karnataka row

India Blooms News Service | @indiablooms | 12 Feb 2022, 12:54 am

New Delhi/IBNS: While hijab and burqas are banned in several Western countries, a government body in United States that monitors and reports on religious freedom abroad has criticised the Indian state of Karnataka amid the row over wearing hijab (headscarves) by Muslim students inside campuses.

In reference to the recent controversy over the hijab ban in schools and colleges in Karnataka, Rashad Hussain, the US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom (IRF) said "hijab bans in schools violate religious freedom".

"Religious freedom includes the ability to choose one's religious attire. The Indian state of Karnataka should not determine permissibility of religious clothing. Hijab bans in schools violate religious freedom and stigmatize and marginalize women and girls," Hussain's office tweeted.

Amid massive protests across various states in India, the Karnataka government on Friday announced that schools for classes 11 and 12 and colleges will remain shut as the state's high court will continue hearing petitions challenging the hijab ban on Monday.

The controversy started last month at the Government Girls PU College in Karnataka's Udupi when six students alleged that they were not allowed in the classes for insisting on wearing the headscarf.

The Karnataka High Court is hearing petitions filed by five women from the government college in Udupi, questioning hijab restrictions. The court has also appealed for peace to the students amid intense protests.

The high court will continue hearing the matter on Monday. The court has asked students and the public at large to maintain peace.

Religious clothing (including head scarves) has been banned in France since 2004 while many countries in Europe earlier banned burqa for security reasons.

Interestingly, in Indonesia, the most populous Muslim-majority country,  a government decree in May last year directed the schools against enforcing the jilbab (hijab) as part of their uniform, after reports of discrimination against girls who removed them surfaced.