Urging Indian leaders to “stop the marginalisation” of Muslim women, Nobel laureate and women’s rights activist Malala Yousafzai Tuesday expressed concern about the recent incidents of female students not being permitted to attend classes while wearing hijab in Karnataka.
“Refusing to let girls go to school in their hijabs is horrifying,” she tweeted. “Objectification of women persists — for wearing less or more. Indian leaders must stop the marginalisation of Muslim women.”
Her statement was made as escalating protests over the recent hijab ban in colleges in the state appeared to spiral out of control, with incidents of stone-pelting and lathicharge being reported in several districts.
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Tuesday announced the closure of high schools and colleges for three days in order to maintain “peace and harmony”.
The confrontations began after government college in Karnataka’s Udupi district banned students from wearing hijab inside the classroom. Seven students who resisted the ban were denied entry. Since then, protests have spread across the state, with some Hindu students and fringe groups launching their own counter-agitations donning saffron shawls and headdresses.
Meanwhile, in a directive validating decisions of state education institutions prohibiting Muslim girl students from wearing the hijab, the Karnataka government said last week that “clothes which disturb equality, integrity and public law and order should not be worn”.