Karnataka High Court’s verdict upholding the ban on wearing hijab in state’s educational institutions was a violation of religious freedom, said the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.
“The ruling is a grave injustice and indignity to women and girls seeking an education in accordance with their faith,” said Anurima Bhargava, the panel’s commissioner.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom is a U.S. federal government commission created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 and it monitors the universal right to freedom of religion and makes policy recommendations.
The panel has been critical of the violation of religious freedom in India.
The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday upheld the State government order effectively banning the wearing of hijab by Muslim girl students in educational institutions in Karnataka.
“Hijab is not a part of essential religious practices of Islam and thus, is not protected under Article 25 of the Constitution,” said a three-judge Bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justices Krishna S Dixit and JM Khazi.
Accordingly, the Court has dismissed the petitions filed by Muslim girl students, challenging the action of government PU colleges in denying their entry for wearing hijab.
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 allege 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.
Soon after the verdict, Muslim students in Karnataka who have been fighting against hijab ban, Muslim leaders, human rights defenders, Opposition parties said the verdict is enabling discrimination against Muslim students and it suspends the fundamental rights of hijab wearing students.