'Hijab makes me feel comfortable, safe': Protests in Hyderabad against hijab row

Naheed Shah identifies herself as a proud hijabi and a proud Indian. “The government kept urging ‘Beti Padhao, Beti Bacho’. But how can girls study with the restrictions?” Naheed asks. She explains that the hijab is a Muslim woman’s pride and identity.

By Amrutha Kosuru  Published on  15 Feb 2022 2:24 PM GMT
Hijab makes me feel comfortable, safe: Protests in Hyderabad against hijab row

Hyderabad: Noor (11) and Deveree (8) overheard someone saying how some students were not allowed to enter colleges. While the school-going children couldn't fully understand the ongoing hijab issue, they were certain about their stand on hijab. "Hijab makes me feel comfortable and safe. So, in order to go to school I should sacrifice my comfort? It's not fair," Noor says.

Deveree hopes that the Karnataka women can wear hijab when they want to without having to take anyone's permission.

Noor and Deveree were participating in a protest held near the Ambedkar statue at Lower Tank Bund against the "fascist hooliganism and denial of rights of Muslim women in Karnataka" on Tuesday evening. The protest was organized by a city-based forum called Secular Intervention.

As many as 20-30 men and women of various religions participated in the protest.

Naheed Shah identifies herself as a proud hijabi and a proud Indian. "The government kept urging 'Beti Padhao, Beti Bacho'. But how can girls study with the restrictions?" Naheed asks. She explains that the hijab is a Muslim woman's pride and identity. "I request the government to let girls continue education with the hijab on. Women who wear hijab are not harming anyone," she adds.

Naheed and several other Muslims who were protesting said wearing a hijab is a modest way of dressing. "So, why should anyone have a problem with it?" they question.

Shishir Gupta, a member of the forum, said it is not a question of whether the hijab is essential. "The question of the hour is whether women's autonomy is being upheld or not," he says adding that communism is not new in the country but the government is giving it a new flair.

"People from various caste and religions should strive to support Muslim women and form a secular platform because these women are being deprived of the right to choose. If only Muslim women continue to protest then there will be a divide in the name of religion," he says.

Another participant, Sreeja, who identifies as an atheist, says the blatant attack on women of a specific community is absolutely wrong. "We all need to mobilize together so that Muslim women have a choice, a choice which only they ought to make. Using Muslim women and their identity as a means to spread propaganda is wrong," she adds.

Sreeja continues, "Today, the hijab row is happening in Karnataka. Maybe, by the next elections or even before that, it may begin in Hyderabad. So irrespective of our gender, caste, religion, and geographical location, we protest against this injustice."

The hijab row began in January after some students were not allowed to enter their college premises in Udupi, Karnataka, as they were wearing hijabs. The issue escalated when fellow students protested against hijabs, wearing saffron scarves.

The Karnataka High Court is currently hearing a petition filed by a hijab-wearing student. At the moment, the HC has ordered the reopening of educational institutes and prevented students from wearing any religious clothing

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