Students wearing Hijab were barred from sitting inside the classrooms at a government college in Udupi, India. Photos of the students sitting on the stairs after being forced out of their classrooms have gone viral on social media.
The group of female Muslim students have also claimed that they were prohibited from speaking in Urdu or Arabic.
The rule was designed to ensure ‘uniformity in the classroom,’ according to college principal Rudra Gowda. He explained that wearing Hijab was allowed in the school, and only banned during lessons. He also alleged that the students were being instructed to ‘act out’ by ‘vested interests’.
“We had allowed students to wear their headscarf inside the campus. They can wear it till they reach their bench and they have to remove it before the class begins to maintain uniformity in the class. They can wear it again before leaving the classroom,” the college president explained regarding the rule.
Members of the student-led Girls Islamic Organisation of India (GIO) and Campus Front India have staged protests to condemn the school’s policy and demanded to meet with district administrators.
“Earlier students used to wear headscarves, even though they were discriminated against then also, but [the school] used to allow them to attend class wearing hijab. But after lockdown was lifted, the issue was raked up and they objected to wearing hijab in the classroom,” said one member of Campus Front India, Nazhath Assadi.
A series of anti-Muslim and Islamophobic incidents in India have occurred during Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s administration, as the prime minister has been accused of using bigoted rhetoric against Muslims to solidify his base.