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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The hijab ban

Khaled Ghareeb
A woman poses while wearing a hijab. Photo courtesy of Khaled Ghareeb via Unsplash.

For the last couple of weeks, many have seen the recent videos circulating on social media about the ban of the hijab in India, along with all the controversial discussions that went with it. The video that went viral sparked a worldwide debate, showing a college girl wearing her hijab to a local school in the district of Mandya. She was followed by a crowd of guys attempting to harass her as she stood her ground and shouted at them, “Allah Akbar” (God is great). As shown in the video, the university guards quickly interfered and escorted her away from the crowd and into the school buildings. The thirty-second video ignited a public debate in India and around the world about how Islamophobia is taking its extreme forms in the Narendra Modi secular government. 

The BBC published a researched article online about the situation and revealed why, how and where this all began. The article states that the whole thing began first in a high school in Karnataka’s Udupi district where they banned the wearing of the hijab inside classes only. The college commented on the issue saying that they allowed students to wear the hijab on campus and only asked them to take it off inside the classroom. Furthermore, the college principal added, “the measures were necessary for the teacher to see the student’s face and the uniform helped ensure there was no discrimination among students” (1). 

Ironically the hijab ban controversy is not new, as it dates to 2005, when France banned the wearing of religious symbols in schools and government buildings in a highly supported bill passed by 494 votes to 36 votes. After this, more countries went on to follow the path that France took to restrict religious symbols, mostly in Europe. Examples of these were Kosovo, Denmark, Belgium, Austria and many more. 

This restriction violates many fundamental rights that we have as humans. It also breaches foundational international bills and conventions such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. As it reads in Article 18, “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The right shall include freedom to have or adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observe, practice and teaching”. 

Unfortunately, the ban on religious symbols has been going on for a while. But in India, it’s even worse. The minority Muslim population has been targeted in the recent period by different institutional organizations. Beginning with the crimes in Kashmir, although it can be argued that the conflict has a long history. It is also worth noting that it has escalated with Modi’s Hindu Nationalist regime. The Citizenship Amendment Act that passed in 2019 grants a pathway for Indian citizenship for many different minorities in South Asia such as Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, but restricts Muslims from doing the same thing. Lately, the vicious attack on Muslim women’s choice of when and where to wear the hijab, and finally, with India’s ruling party posting a hateful picture on an official Twitter account of Muslims hanged, and said: “No mercy to perpetrators of terror.” The cartoon image was so horrible that Twitter management quickly removed the picture that was posted by the Bharatiya Janata Party. 

It can be easily concluded that the recent attacks on Muslims are unjustifiable, nor acceptable, and the nationalist Hindu regime has gone far in expanding the hate speech in India. There needs to be a firm objection to the push for Islamophobia by the BJP, as those ongoing assaults need to be condemned and the ones responsible need to be punished.

1. Qureshi, Imran. “Karnataka Hijab Row: Judge Refers Issue to Larger Bench.” BBC News, BBC, 9 Feb. 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-60312864. 
2. French MPs back headscarf ban. BBC News, BBC, 10 Feb. 2004, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3474673.stm.

 3. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 19 December 1966, 999 UNTS 171, Can TS 1976 No 47 (entered into force 23 March 1976) [ICCPR]