U T Khader, a Muslim MLA from the Congress party in Mangalore, has supported the Karnataka government’s decision to disallow hijab in educational institutions.
At a press conference, Khader was questioned about the ongoing hijab row plaguing Mangalore University where a few hijabi students were not allowed to attend classes owing to their headscarves.
Sharply critiquing the students, Khader said, “Those (the protesting students) who want Hijab, let them go to countries such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. There they will know the value of our country.”
He further added, “Here they can speak as they want, can meet district collector, can hold press meets. But, let them try in those foreign countries.”
Khader compared those who are protesting for their rights to “tigers in India” but the same people morph into “cats” when they are abroad.
“Parents must be careful about children and prevent them from getting misled,” he continued.
Earlier, the protesting students sought Khader’s help to intervene in the matter. In the latest development, 24 students of Uppinangadi Degree College in Puttur taluk have been banned for a period of seven days from attending classes for wearing hijab.
The Congress MLA was a former cabinet minister for Urban Development and Housing when Siddaramaiah was the chief minister of Karnataka.
Background of the hijab row
The hijab controversy erupted and has been raging since January, after students of a pre-university college in Karnataka’s Udupi were prohibited from wearing headscarves (hijab), as part of their religious obligation, on the college premises. The issue blew up after Hindu students turned up to their colleges wearing saffron scarves in a protest against hijabi Muslims being allowed to wear headscarves.
The state was forced to form a committee to decide on the issue and prohibited the students from wearing any religious garment, including the hijab until a decision is reached.
However, a number of protests by saffron-clad students and Muslims around the state forced the state to shut down schools and colleges for a few days.
The Karnataka high court finally gave its verdict stating that there was no material placed on record to prima facie show that wearing the headscarf was an essential religious practice. The court also said that school uniforms will cease to be a uniform if hijab is allowed.