The state’s Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that hijab is not a “fundamental religious practice of the Islamic faith” and rejected a raft of petitions by Muslim students to bar entry to classes at multiple schools and colleges across the state.
The court also ruled that the requirement for students to wear school uniform was a “constitutionally reasonable and permissible limitation that students cannot object to.”
Karnataka Chief Minister Basvraj Bhumi called for calm after the ruling, which authorities fear will ignite religious protests.
“I am asking everyone to abide by the order of the Supreme Court and to maintain peace and order,” Bomai told reporters on Tuesday. “And let the children do their education as usual.”
The controversy erupted after students staged a small protest in January They are asking to be allowed Inside the classroom while wearing Islamic clothes.
The dispute was considered a symbol of deepening religious tensions in the country. where Authorities ordered the closure of all high schools and colleges for several days to discourage protests in early February. Gatherings in the state capital, Bengaluru, outside educational institutions have also been banned for two weeks.
There are also dozens of women from other Indian cities, including the capital, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Calcutta They took to the streets to support Muslim girls.
State authorities have upheld the headscarf ban, citing the state’s mandate on religious clothing.
But experts and activists say the controversy over the headscarf runs deeper than just the dress code, claiming it indicates a broader crackdown on India’s Muslim minority since the Bharatiya Janata Party took power nearly eight years ago.
Karnataka – where only 13% of the population is Muslim – is ruled by the BJP, and the state has already passed legislation that critics say favors Hindus.
Attorney Muhammad Tahir, who represented a group of petitioners in court, told CNN last month that Karnataka was a “hotbed” of Hindutva ideology, backed by many right-wing groups seeking to make India the land of Hindus.
“We welcome the verdict. However, we are yet to be sure of the rationale,” the girls’ attorney, Chatapesh Shivana, told CNN of Tuesday’s ruling. “We’ll talk to the petitioners and then we’ll look at what legal recourse we want to take.”
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