- Ayesha says a move by her university will force her to choose between religion and education.
- My religion has been offended by a place I considered a temple of education, she says†
- Ayesha and six other girls say they are determined to fight for their religious freedom.
UDIPI: Ayesha Imthiaz, a devout Indian Muslim woman who considers wearing a hijab an expression of devotion to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), says her university’s action against girls wearing hijab is an insult that will force her to choose between religion and education.
“The humiliation that I was asked to leave my classroom to wear a headscarf by university officials has shaken my convictions,” said the 21-year-old student from Udupi district in southern Karnataka, where protests have started against the ban. headgear.
“My religion has been questioned and insulted by a place I had considered a temple of education,” she said Reuters.
“It’s more like telling us you’ve chosen between your religion or education, that’s a wrong thing,” she said after studying five years at Mahatma Gandhi Memorial College in Udupi.
Several Muslim girls protesting the ban received threatening phone calls and had to stay indoors, she added.
University officials say students are allowed to wear the hijab on campus and only asked them to take it off in class.
Udupi is one of three districts in the religiously sensitive coastal region of Karnataka, a stronghold of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The standoff has increased fear and anger among Muslim minorities who say the country’s constitution gives them the freedom to wear whatever they want. Protests against the ban have escalated, with hundreds of protesters in Kolkata and Chennai this month.
Last week, a state Supreme Court judge referred petitions against the ban to a larger panel.
The issue is being closely watched internationally as a test of religious freedom guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.
The U.S. Office of International Religious Freedom (IRF) said Friday that the hijab bans “violate religious freedom and stigmatize and marginalize women and girls.”
In response, India’s foreign ministry said on Saturday that outside comments on internal issues were not welcome and the matter was under judicial review.
Imthiaz and six other Muslim girls protesting the ban say they are determined to fight for their religious freedom in the face of some tough Hindu students and even some of their friends.
“It’s really painful to see our own friends go against us and say, ‘I have a problem wearing the hijab’…it has affected our bonds and our mental health,” Imthiaz said.