Indian authorities violently crackdown on Muslims, evading accountability.
A decision to ban the hijab at educational institutions in southern Indian province, Karnataka, of which Muslims make up 12% of the population, has sparked outrage globally and in Qatar, spurring #HijabisOurRight to top Twitter trends.
Muslim female students are being prohibited from entering their schools as per an order by the education ministry, prompting hundreds of students and their parents to protest in the streets of Kolkata.
The issue was brought to the global spotlight on Wednesday, after a video of a young Indian-Muslim female student being hassled by a far-right Hindutva mob went viral.
What liberation can anyone offer this brave young girl??
— Mini Nair (@minicnair) February 8, 2022
Activists and journalists slammed the decision as Islamophobic, accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, led by India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Damodardas Modi, of marginalising Muslims.
“Refusing to let girls go to school in their hijabs is horrifying. Objectification of women persists — for wearing less or more. Indian leaders must stop the marginalisation of Muslim women,” tweeted Malala Yousafzai, campaigner for girls’ education and Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
In Qatar, Al Jazeera journalist Ghada Oueiss called for an end to Islamophobia.
“Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia and all forms of racism and intolerance must be stopped,” she said.
Another hashtag, #India_Bans_The_Hijab (#الهند_تمنع_الحجاب), topped trends in the Middle East as people lauded the young student in the viral video for her bravery. Others voiced their solidarity with Muslim women living under oppressive policies in India.
“We must stand with our Indian Muslim sisters and demand for their justice in receiving their education fairly,” said one twitter user.
Another said: “You gotta be proud of yourself [girl in the video]. They call for freedom of women to choose but when a woman choose[s] hijab they act like enemies of freedom. Weird world of contradictions.”
People in India continue to protest the decision as Hindutva supporters hold counter-protests. These clashes have forced Karnataka’s government to shut schools and colleges for three days.
The latest events in India amplify the ongoing struggles Muslims face in the country, under the BJP’s discriminatory practices.
The party, which hails the Hindutva ideology, portrays India as a Hindu nation whilst alienating the 14.2% of its Muslim population. The ideology has been described as a variant of far-right extremism, which adheres to the concept of homogenised majority.
In 2016, BJP Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Anantkumar Hegde, said that “as long as there is Islam in the world, there will be terrorism”.
“Until we uproot Islam, we can’t remove terrorism.”
Rohingya refugees in India live under the constant threat of being deported to Myanmar, which they had initially fled from in fear of the army’s crackdown on Muslims.
Muslim-majority areas in Jammu and Kashmir continue to be oppressed by Indian authorities. This comes through discriminatory restrictions, including limiting their access to information, health care and education.
Modi’s government also carries out discriminatory practices against Muslims in Assam, who make up one-third of the population in the northeastern state. In 2018, India stripped millions of Muslims in Assam of their Indian citizenship over immigration claims.
The absence of accountability in India and ongoing crackdowns on Muslims prompted another hashtag in Qatar last year over boycotting Indian products.
Qatar has a large community of Indian expats who live and work in the Gulf state.