Unconstitutional, Islamophobic: Indian Americans protest Hijab ban in Karnataka

Washington, DC, February 19 (KMS): Indian American Muslims protested in Houston city of Texas against the ban on students wearing hijab in schools by the High Court in the Indian state of Karnataka.

More than a hundred people, with women at the forefront, urged the Karnataka government to immediately stop discrimination against the Muslim girl students who are being forced to remove hijab.

The court’s interim order was passed after several colleges in Karnataka state barred Muslim students from entering classrooms while wearing hijab, leading to protests across India and international criticism.

The protesters in Houston held placards saying “Hijab is our constitutional right”, “Stop India’s hijab ban”, “Stop Islamophobia in India”, “Attack on hijab is a ploy to deny education to Muslim girls,” and “Hijab ban in India is apartheid”.

“I am an Indian-American woman living in Houston. I have been watching what’s happening in your state from afar, and I am shocked and disheartened,” said a protester who spoke at the event. “I want you to understand that hijab is one of the most integral parts of my religion, my faith.”

The woman protester said, “It is not just a piece of clothing for those of us who choose to wear it. It is our very identity… We wear it just as naturally as a Sikh person wears his pagdi (turban), a Christian wears his holy cross, a married Hindu woman wears her mangalsutra, sindoor or bichhiya. I request you to not politicise it.”

She said, “I urge you to let educational institutes be a center of learning, not a political battleground to divide communities. Please allow my Indian sisters to practice their faith as is allowed to them by the Constitution of India.”

Meanwhile, the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) in a statement condemned the Karnataka High Court’s disregard for the Indian constitution which reflects from its recent order, which punishes Muslim women for wearing the hijab despite the fact that their right to religious expression is codified in Article 25. The IAMC urged the court to lift this discriminatory ban and recognise that it is the right of every Indian to practice their faith without being subjected to harassment, segregation, and bigotry.

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