'Not Essential to Islam': Karnataka High Court Upholds Classroom Hijab Ban

© AFP 2022 / -Students and supporters sit in front of the office of the deputy commissioner as a sign of protest in Shivamogga district in India’s Karnataka state on February 17, 2022, a day after educational institutions reopened in southern India under tight security after authorities banned public gatherings following protests over Muslim girls wearing the hijab in classrooms.
Students and supporters sit in front of the office of the deputy commissioner as a sign of protest in Shivamogga district in India’s Karnataka state on February 17, 2022, a day after educational institutions reopened in southern India under tight security after authorities banned public gatherings following protests over Muslim girls wearing the hijab in classrooms.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.03.2022
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In December, six Muslim girls wearing headscarves in Karnataka's Udupi District were prevented from entering their classroom. It sparked a series of protests, sometimes involving violence, in different parts of the southern Indian state.
In a significant verdict, India's Karnataka High Court on Tuesday upheld the state government's ban on wearing hijabs in educational institutions, claiming that wearing the Muslim headscarf is "not essential religious practice in Islam".
"Educational institutions have a right to prescribe uniforms and, as such, have dismissed all writ petitions by girl/women students," a three-judge Bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justices Krishna S. Dixit, and J.M. Khazi noted.
Ahead of the order, the Karnataka government had prohibited any large gathering for a week in the capital city of Bengaluru and many other districts "to maintain public peace and order".
On Tuesday, schools and colleges were shut down in the Udupi District, where the Hijab protest had originated.
In their petitions, a group of Muslim students rom the Government Women's Pre-University College in Udupi argued before the court that wearing the hijab was their fundamental right as part of freedom to religion.
Syrian and Lebanese girls huddle round in a group discussion about early marriage at a community centre in southern Lebanon. - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.03.2022
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However, on 10 February, in its interim order, the court restrained students from wearing "religious clothes'', including the hijab or saffron head scarves or shawls, until further directions.
The court stated that while all citizens have the right to profess and practice any faith, it was subjected to reasonable restrictions under the Constitution of India.
Meanwhile, the petitioner girls can still take up the matter to the country's top court - the Supreme Court of India.
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