Pro- and anti-hijab demonstrations in some schools in India

India witnessed a state of controversy during the past few days, following the decision of some schools in the southern state of Karnataka to prevent Muslim students from attending classes wearing the hijab.

Supporting and opposing this decision took place in a number of Indian cities and schools, and it sparked a wide interaction across the platforms.

A number of male and female students organized rallies a few days ago in the city of Kund Pura in Karnataka state, their shoulders were decorated with orange scarves, in support of the schools’ decision to ban headscarves.

In the city of Chikmagalur, students of a school marched and their shoulders were also decorated with scarves, but the color was blue, in a sign of their support for the right of female students to wear the veil, and the opposition of those with orange scarves.

Activists also circulated on the platforms a video clip documenting the occurrence of skirmishes between the owners of the orange and blue scarves in the city of Chikmagalur, before the school administration intervened to break up the clash.

In the same context, a campaign was launched on Indian communication platforms, using the hashtag #Hijab_OurRight, to support the right of Muslim students to wear the veil inside educational premises and classrooms.

This angry campaign was launched to the streets of a number of Indian cities, and a number of activists launched demonstrations and rallies, raising banners and chanting slogans in support of the right of Muslim girls enshrined in the Indian constitution.

Indian activist Suraj Suresh shared a video of students supporting and opposing the veil clashing on his Twitter account, and warned of an increase in strife between Muslims and Hindus.

“What is happening now will spread like wildfire, this small incident will inflame and make matters worse in Karnataka,” he said.

Suresh also sent a message to the Indian government, saying, “It is time for the government to realize what is happening, and how students are being harmed and deprived of education because of these policies.”

Hindu activist Sahar Shinwari denounced what is happening, saying, “Today they ban the Islamic headscarf, and tomorrow they can insult the Sikh turban as well.”

Shinwari added, “India has become the fastest growing neo-Nazi state in the world. While the United Nations is betting on preventing all manifestations and aims of genocide, it seems to care little about the ongoing genocide against Christians and Kashmiris in India.”

Activist and journalist Zfar Seyafi tweeted, “Daily attacks on Muslim identity remind me of Professor Gregory’s warning. Can Prime Minister Narandia Modi ensure the security of Muslims in India?

“Go to Pakistan”

In a related context, activists circulated on social media platforms in India an official statement that “Muslims should go to Pakistan if they want to practice their religion freely,” which sparked widespread controversy.

According to the “Hindu Watch” initiative concerned with monitoring attacks on Muslim minorities in India, during a press conference held last weekend in Karnataka state, in which a number of its schools prevented Muslim students from attending classes wearing the hijab, a member of the state legislature (Patil Yantal) demanded that the state’s legislature be cancelled. Qur’anic schools and madrasas that teach Urdu, common among Indian Muslims.

The Indian official accused Muslims of being hostile to India, saying, “They consume the fruits that we planted on this land, and drink the water that comes from this land, and then participate in anti-national activities.”

Yantal sent a brief message to the Muslims of India, saying, “What do you have here? Do you want hijab, Urdu language and other things related to Islam? Go to the Pakistan that Mahatma Gandhi gave you.”

Commenting on the words of the Karnataka legislator, Indian activist Shuja said, “Who asked you for your opinion? We are not going anywhere, India is not your father’s private property.”

Suga sent a message to Yantal, saying, “We will stay here, and we will demand the robes and the hijab as well.”

Recently, hate speech and anti-Muslim sentiments against Muslims in India have increased and become a common reality in more than one state.

The New York Times revealed that a number of Hindu activists pledged during a conference held last month to harm Muslims if necessary to make India a “pure Hindu nation”, while India’s leaders did not move a finger amid growing anti-Muslim sentiment in the country, according to the newspaper.

She added that hundreds of right-wing Hindu activists and monks rose up during the conference to swear that they would turn India – a secular republic according to its constitution – into a Hindu nation, even if that required death and murder.

Referring to the country’s Muslims, Pooja Shakun Pandey, the leader of the Hindu Mahasabha, said, “If a hundred of us are willing to kill two million of them, we will win and make India a Hindu country. Be prepared to kill and go to prison.”

The three-day conference in Haridwar, 150 miles north of New Delhi, represented the largest and most alarming call for violence and ethnic cleansing against minorities in India in recent years.