Indian court upholds Hijab class ban in Karnataka state Religious news

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The court upheld the ban in a state-controlled BJP, which could set a precedent for the rest of the country, where 200 million Muslims live.

An Indian court upheld a ban on a hijab in a class in the southern state of Karnataka, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“We believe that wearing the hijab by Muslim women is not part of basic religious practice,” Chief Justice Rita Raj Awasthi of the Karnataka Supreme Court said in a ruling on Tuesday.

He said the government had the power to prescribe uniform guidelines and reject various petitions challenging the order.

The students who challenged the ban in court said that wearing the hijab is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Indian constitution and the basic practice of Islam.

Lawyer Anas Tanwir, who said he would represent the girls now planning to move the Supreme Court, called the Karnataka court’s decision “disappointing” and “wrong.”

“I believe this is a misinterpretation of the law,” he told Al Jazeera.

“As regards basic religious practice, [that] there should be no question. The question was whether [authorities] had the power to issue such orders. “

Tuesday’s ruling could set a precedent for the rest of the country, home to more than 200 million Muslims, who make up about 14 percent of India’s 1.35 billion people.

There is currently no central law or rule on school uniforms across the country, but a decision in Karnataka could encourage other states to issue such guidelines.

The dispute began in January when a government-run school in the Karnataka district of Udupi banned hijab students from entering classes, sparking Muslim protests and counter-protests by Hindu students.

Other schools and colleges in the state followed with similar bans, and the state supreme court banned students from wearing the hijab until it issued a verdict.

In India, hijab has not been historically banned or restricted in the public domain.

Many in Karnataka claim that Muslim girls have worn the hijab in schools and colleges for decades, as have Hindus, Sikhs and Christians with their respective symbols.

The dispute has led to criticism that Indian Muslims remain marginalized.

Prior to the verdict, the Karnataka authorities announced the closure of schools and colleges and imposed restrictions on public rallies in some parts of the state to avoid possible problems.

Last month, Federal Interior Minister Amit Shah said he preferred students who adhere to school uniforms instead of any religious attire.

The Karnataka ban has led to protests in some other parts of the country and has provoked criticism from the United States and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation.

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