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Karnataka govt to withdraw hijab ban: Siddaramaiah

Controversy over the hijab broke out in early 2022 when some Muslim girls were stopped from attending classes because their headgear was not in line with the prescribed uniform. BJP government’s February 5, 2022 order insisted that students should stick to the uniform.
Last Updated : 22 December 2023, 14:47 IST

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Mysuru: Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Friday announced that his government will withdraw an order that effectively barred Muslim girls from wearing the hijab inside classrooms, in what will be a major policy reversal with political ramifications.

Siddaramaiah said this at the inauguration of the Kavalande, Antarsante and police stations in Nanjangud, Mysuru.

“We will withdraw (the order). Hijab can be worn. Alright? I've asked for that order to be withdrawn,” Siddaramaiah said.

The CM was referring to a February 5, 2022 order by the previous BJP government that mandated students to wear the prescribed uniform in schools and pre-university colleges, virtually banning hijab inside classrooms.

“Dress, eating habits...they’re your choice. Why should I come in the way? Wear whatever dress you want. Eat what you want. What's that to me? I'll eat my food. You eat yours. You have your right and I have mine. It's that simple,” Siddaramaiah said.

“Politics shouldn’t be done for the sake of votes. We don’t do that,” he added.

Siddaramaiah’s announcement came even as the matter is before the Supreme Court.

This also demonstrates the Congress’ ideological positioning as it prepares to fight the BJP’s Hindutva plank in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

“We (Congress) don’t discriminate based on caste or faith. BJP says ‘Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas’. Where are they practicing this? Those sporting a beard, skull cap and wearing burqa are asked not to come in (sic). They keep lying. We're not like that,” Siddaramaiah said earlier at the event.

“We help the poor of all castes and faiths - Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains,” Siddaramaiah said, adding that the Congress government’s guarantees are benefiting even those associated with the BJP. He brought up the hijab after prompts from members in the audience.

Controversy over the hijab broke out in early 2022 when some Muslim girls were stopped from attending classes because their headgear was not in line with the prescribed uniform. BJP government’s February 5, 2022 order insisted that students should stick to the uniform.

In March 2022, the Karnataka High Court upheld the order and concluded that wearing the hijab was not an essential religious practice in Islam.

When the matter went to the Supreme Court, it delivered a split judgement in October 2022 on the validity of the hijab ban, leaving the issue for a larger bench to decide on.

The hijab controversy in Karnataka made headlines globally. Terror outfit Al-Qaeda’s Ayman Al-Zawahiri used the hijab issue to target democracy in India.

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Published 22 December 2023, 14:47 IST

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