US State Department body denounces ban on Hijab in India

Washington, February 13 (KMS): As the hijab row in India has intensified, a United States body that monitors and reports on religious freedom has criticized the move by the Karnataka government to ban hijab in schools and colleges.

Rashad Hussain, the Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom (IRF), tweeted about the issue. He said, “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 stigmatise and marginalise women and girls.”

Hussain is the ambassador at large of the Office of International Religious Freedom, or IRF, under the US State Department headed by Antony Blinken in the Joe Biden administration.

The IRF says that its mission is to promote universal respect for freedom of religion or belief for all as a core objective of US foreign policy. Hussain is reportedly the first Muslim ambassador at large for the IRF.

The hijab issue is currently under the consideration of the Karnataka High Court. In an interim order, the court prohibited students from wearing “saffron shawls, scarves, hijabs, religious flags within classrooms” in institutions where the College Development Committees have prescribed a dress code, as per reports.

The order came on a hearing after some students moved the court seeking the right to wear hijab in classrooms after authorities prevented them from sitting in class while wearing the Islamic headgear.

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