Hijab row: Muskan’s defiance draws praise from far and near

J.S. Ifthekhar

Hyderabad: Each time a woman stands up for herself, she stands up for all women. Muskan, the hijabi student of Mandya’s pre-University college in Karnataka, has done just that when she bravely faced the saffron scarf heckling mob the other day. The raw courage displayed by the girl when surrounded by ‘Jai Shri Ram’ chanting mob, has made her an overnight sensation. Accolades continue to pour in for this 20-something girl who did not break down but boldly confronted her hecklers.

Bravery hides in amazing places. Nobody expected a lone burqa clad girl to stand up to the jeering mob and pay them back in the same coin. Her yelling back ‘Allahu Akbar’ has come in for praise from not just members of the community but others as well. The Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind has announced a cash award of Rs. 5 lakh to the girl for standing up for her constitutional and religious rights. Faith to kneel builds courage to stand. Muskan’s convictions are surely bigger than her fears.

While Muslim students in Hyderabad and elsewhere have come out in solidarity with their protesting Karnataka counterparts, social media is awash with praise for Muskan. Many have hailed her as a ‘tigress’ for taking on the saffron crowed. All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen leader, Asaduddin Owaisi, saluted the girl and appreciated her parents for her ‘unapologetic upbringing.’ Her act of fearlessness has become a source of courage for all, he remarked. Former Kashmir chief minister, Omar Abdullah, wondered how macho they (the saffron mob) must have felt while targeting a lone young lady. Hatred for Muslims has been completely mainstreamed and normalised in India. We are no longer a nation that celebrates our diversity, he twitted.

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There are many adverse comments too. But the whole thing is not just about hijab or saffron shawls but about politics of identity. Many are of the opinion that women should be free and empowered to wear or not to wear hijab. Whatever, the bold act of Muskan has spawned poems, art works and encomiums in the social media.

Kehkashaan, the YouTube channel of Idara Adab-e-Atfal, Bhatkal in Karnataka, has come up with a beautiful song on hijab: It goes like this:

Haya zamane mein aam karna
Hijab ka ehtimam karna
Hijab mein aman hai amaan hai
Hijab aurat ka pasban hai

(Spread modesty in the world
Be steadfast in wearing hijab
There’s peace and security in hijab
Hijab is woman’s protection)

Another song hails Muskan thus:
Aaee hai labon par teri takbeer se Muskan
Shaitan bhi takbeer ki haibat se pareshan
Parde mein kiya tu ne ada haqqe jasarat
Tu faqr se chilla ke main hun binte Muslman

(Your takbeer has brought smile on lips
Even the devil is upset by the takbeer
Under veil you have shown courage
Say proudly I am a Muslim daughter)

The hijab row has triggered a debate with people across the spectrum putting their own spin on the matter. The issue is further complicated with politicians taking a stand for and against hijab. As the controversy rages, what suffers is the Muslim girls’ access to education. Should a piece of cloth ruin education as Muskan has herself put it?

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