Protests over classroom Hijab ban erupt in India
The development comes after weeks of protests by six students at a government-run high school in southern India.
Muslims in southern India rallied in protest to a ban on Islamic headscarves in schools, with massive crowds going to take the streets on Monday.
The standoff in Karnataka has stoked anxieties among minorities in the state about what they say is escalating persecution under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist regime.
Muslim students in a government college in India's southern state of Karnataka have been sitting outside of their classrooms for weeks now, as they've been banned by principles and instructors from wearing their hijab in class.
The students were even asked to remove their headscarves, but they refused. The six Muslim students were accused by the college administration of defying the rules, alleging that the hijab is not part of the uniform.
Deplorable scenes unfolding in Karnataka, another govt college not allowing Girls with #hijab to enter classrooms. The students are crying and requesting the principal not to ruin their future with just 2 months to go for exams. pic.twitter.com/sYJzTsLuuX— Deepak Bopanna (@dpkBopanna) February 3, 2022
Sumayya Roushan, president of the Girls Islamic Organisation Karnataka, said at a Monday press conference that “it’s discriminatory in nature and also it's against the rights that are provided under the constitution of India."
Hundreds of people gathered on roadways and waved Indian flags in at least two cities in Karnataka, according to social media footage, the latest in a series of days of protests against the ban.
According to local media, one of the schools has partially allowed female Muslim students to attend class wearing a headscarf but told them to sit in separate classes.
#Breaking: Protests over #hijab ban in Kundapura college Karnataka, India continue on second day after girls were stopped outside the gate. Muslim male students also sit-in outside the college gate in solidarity. pic.twitter.com/Q5qnqHAEdv— Rushda Fathima Khan (@Rushda_Khan_) February 4, 2022
Two other schools that had enacted a hijab ban declared a vacation on Monday and remained closed.
The state of Karnataka is governed by Modi's right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party, and numerous senior members have backed the ban, which has been criticized by other political leaders.
"By letting students' hijab come in the way of their education, we are robbing the future of the daughters of India," Rahul Gandhi of the opposition Congress party tweeted last week.
On Tuesday, the state's highest court will hear petitions and decide whether to overturn the bans.
The state of Karnataka has witnessed an increase in Hindu nationalist activity over the last several years, with incidents targeting the state's Muslim minorities.