Outrage and scores of protests are erupting in India's Karnataka state after a group of Hindus heckled a young Muslim girl. In a video posted on Twitter on February 8, a Muslim girl wearing a burqa was bullied by a mob of militant far-right Hindus. Muskan Khan, a college student, can be seen fighting back the protesters in the video.
— Mohammed Zubair (@zoo_bear) February 8, 2022
Al Jazeera reported that the protesters were not allowing Khan to enter the school because she wore a burqa. "After that, they started shouting the slogan 'Jai Shri Ram," then I started to scream 'Allah Akbar' (God is great)," Khan said.
Last month, a school in Karnataka barred six students from entering their classroom for wearing the hijab. Since December last year, the girls have been prevented from joining their class for wearing the hijab.
Since the incident, far-right Hindu groups have become bolder and have held multiple demonstrations supporting the state's call to ban the hijab in schools. These groups have resorted to picketing and harassing Muslim students.
The state of Karnataka responded to the backlash by emphasizing that students should follow whatever dress code a school sets.
Bellur Chandrashekharaiah Nagesh, Minister of Primary & Secondary Education, said the ban on the hijab on school grounds was based on court decisions. Protests on both sides of the issue with Karnataka's mandate are becoming violent.
Basavaraj Bommai, the Chief Minister and a member of Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), announced that schools and colleges in Karnataka would be closed for three days. Bommai also called for peace amidst the escalating response from counter-protesters against the ban on hijab in schools.
"I appeal to all the students, teachers, and management of schools and colleges … to maintain peace and harmony," Bommai said.
Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani advocate for education, said that Karnataka's move is horrifying. "Objectification of women persists - for wearing less or more," she added.
“College is forcing us to choose between studies and the hijab”.
Refusing to let girls go to school in their hijabs is horrifying. Objectification of women persists — for wearing less or more. Indian leaders must stop the marginalisation of Muslim women. https://t.co/UGfuLWAR8I
— Malala (@Malala) February 8, 2022