Hijab a fundamental right: Siddaramaiah backs protesting Muslim students

As many colleges in Karnataka have started denying entry to Muslim students wearing the hijab, Leader of Opposition Siddaramaiah has come out in support of the Muslim students’ rights.

“Muslim girls have been wearing headscarf since the beginning. It is their fundamental right. Were they (students) wearing a saffron shawl earlier, whenever they come to colleges and schools? This is politically motivated. That’s why the government should take a stand,” Siddaramaiah told reporters.

Many government and private educational institutions in Karnataka have started to bar Muslim students from wearing the hijab, though there is no government-mandated rule against the same.

Muslim girls who were singled out arbitrarily by authorities for belonging to the Islamic faith and wearing hijabs, said to Maktoob that they are never going to remove hijab and will continue their fight for basic rights.

Several videos surfaced on internet showed students protesting against the Islamophobic move. Many community organisations, activists and political leaders have said that students have the right to wear the hijab, as the Constitution of India guarantees the right to freedom of religion.

Siddaramaiah went on to say: “Education is a fundamental right. If you prevent them from coming to school, what does it indicate? Is it not a violation of a fundamental right? The girls are from the Muslim community, they should not be deprived of getting education.”

Former chief minister Siddaramaiah said the Congress would raise the matter in the Assembly after the decision of the court.

“The government has not said anywhere that there should be uniforms for pre-university students. Now there is a problem being created at a college in Kundapur. A principal in a college has locked the gates and prevented the girl students from entering. It is a government college. It is a violation of the fundamental rights of the students,” he said.

“The MLA in Udupi has been saying that they should not come with head scarves and the principal has immediately acted on it. The principals are being paid with taxpayers money and they are preventing students from entering the campus,” senior Congress leader said.