Nobel laureate and education rights activist Malala Yousafzai has condemned the hijab ban in Karnataka, India, saying that turning away girls from school because of their hijab was ‘horrifying.’
“Objectification of women persists — for wearing less or more. Indian leaders must stop the marginalisation of Muslim women,” Malala posted on Twitter. “Refusing to let girls go to school in their hijabs is horrifying.”
Situating the controversy in a wider debate around Muslim women’s clothing, Malala, who herself was stopped from going to school by a bullet from the Pakistan Taliban, alluded to the various edicts around the globe policing the way Muslim women choose to dress, from the Afghan Taliban mandating woman don a Burqa, to France’s hijab ban, and now Karnataka’s schools joining the fray.
Yesterday, a video showing a Muslim girl being accosted by a mob of chanting boys wearing saffron scarves as she tries to enter her school in Karnataka went viral online.
The girl told India Today, “They asked me to take my burqa off and were not letting me in. As soon as I entered the college, the group started chanting Jai Shri Ram [Victory To Lord Rama].”
“I was scared when the mob surrounded me,” she recalled, adding that the mob included boys from her college as well as outsiders.
The girl has become a symbol of resistance on social media, where countless drawings and portraits of her have emerged, and many have celebrated her “courage” and “bravery.”
In recent weeks, Muslim students wearing hijab at school has been a controversial topic in Karnataka, India, with several schools denying girls wearing hijab entry into classrooms or college campuses, ostensibly under the guise of uniformity and classroom order, with many condemning the policy as Islamophobic.