‘It’s their choice’: World boxing champion Nikhat Zareen criticise hijab ban

World boxing champion Nikhat Zareen on Monday, spoke on the hijab ban in Karnataka’s educational institutions, saying that a person’s attire was completely their choice.

She said that if girls wanted to wear hijab and follow their religion, it was completely up to them.

“I don’t have any problem with them wearing hijabs. After all, it’s their own choice. I am okay with that,” Zareen was quoted as saying by NDTV.

“It is totally their own choice. I can’t comment on their choices. I have my own choice. I like to wear such clothes. I don’t mind wearing such clothes. My family doesn’t mind me wearing such clothes. So, I don’t care what people say about me,” she said.

Nikhat Zareen won the gold medal in the 52kg category at the Women’s World Championship with a unanimous decision win over Jitpong Jutamas of Thailand in the fly-weight final in Istanbul on Thursday.

Nikhat became only the fifth Indian women’s boxer after Mary Kom, Sarita Devi, Jenny RL and Lekha KC to win a gold at the World Championships. This is India’s first gold medal in four years. Six-time champion Mary Kom (48kg) had won the last title in 2018

Muslim students in Karnataka have been protesting the ban on hijab in educational institutions, saying the Islamophobic move of the Karnataka government violates their religious freedom guaranteed under India’s constitution.

Muslim students, activists, and Opposition leaders across the country alleged that these attacks on Muslim symbols and practices are part of the larger Hindutva agenda of imposing majoritarian values on the country’s 200 million Muslims.

The Karnataka High Court had also upheld the ban in March this year, saying that wearing hijabs was not essential under Islam.

The order has been challenged in the Supreme Court.