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Indian Americans call hijab ban as unconstitutional & Islamophobic

“Hijab is celebrated and respected globally by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Muslim women have competed in and won medals at the Olympics, raised their voices as activists, risen to social media stardom, taken to the screen as reporters, become United Nations ambassadors, and even walked the halls of the US Congress as elected representatives and top aides, all while wearing the hijab.”

Washington, DC: The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) unequivocally condemned the discriminatory treatment and denial of educational opportunity being inflicted on Muslim students wearing the hijab at various colleges in Karnataka state. IAMC, which is an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, issued a press release on February 07, 2022 in this connection.

Calling the discrimination faced by these students as severe, humiliating, and dehumanizing IAMC claimed that the ban on hijab in some schools is reflective of how the supremacist ideology of Hindutva insidiously seeks to afflict every aspect of public life throughout India.

IAMC stated that when the students were admitted back to campus, they were segregated away from their peers into a separate classroom. Such discrimination is not only sickening, but also unconstitutional and illegal.

The Indian American Muslim body finds it disturbing to note that Hindu extremist leaders and politicians have used the students’ plight to further their hateful sectarian agendas.

It observed that Muslim students have been kicked out of classes, verbally threatened by teachers, and marked as absent simply for choosing to wear the hijab, that comprises of modest clothing including a headscarf.

Mr. Syed Ali, President of IAMC asserts, “Hijab is celebrated and respected globally by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Muslim women have competed in and won medals at the Olympics, raised their voices as activists, risen to social media stardom, taken to the screen as reporters, become United Nations ambassadors, and even walked the halls of the US Congress as elected representatives and top aides, all while wearing the hijab.”

He added: “The fact that Hindutva supremacists in India refuse to see hijab as anything more than a tool to rally fellow extremists against Muslims is not only shameful, but indicative of a much deeper malaise plaguing the Hindutva mindset.”

IAMC observed that, “Denial of education to women of a specific community in order to compel them to give up a part of their attire, is bigotry and denial of fundamental rights at its worst. This is completely antithetical to the fundamental idea of India as a diverse, multicultural, and multifaith democracy, whose Constitution guarantees every Indian the right to practice their religion.”

Appreciating Dalit brothers for supporting Muslim girls, IAMC states, “On the other hand, the heartening show of solidarity for the Muslim students from many people across the faith spectrum shows that the core humanism of India’s traditionally diverse society continues to push back against Hindutva. Celebrities and media personalities have taken to social media to protest the treatment of Muslim students wearing the hijab. Dalit students, who face discrimination on a daily basis for being of a “lower” caste, held a march in support of Muslim women, wearing blue and chanting “Jai Bhim” to show their solidarity. Their admirable courage is a reflection of India’s true Constitutional ideals.”

Calling upon the college officials that are attempting to ban the hijab to abandon their discriminatory and Islamophobic policies, IAMC also urged civil society institutions to take up the cause of protecting the right to education and right to dignity for all students.

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