Muslim women and students, while addressing a press conference on Karnataka High Court’s Verdict on Hijab: Challenges and Way Forward, held in the national capital on March 16, expressed deep concern and termed the judgement as discriminatory against Muslim women. They claimed that such kind of judgement may set a bad precedent in constitutional law.

Muslim women and students believed that the very judgement is likely to create an unsafe atmosphere for hijab-wearing women. They were of the view that the discrimination the Muslim women are facing is not something new, but the BJP government has found it a way to legalise the harassment Muslim women have been facing.      

Khalida Parveen, a social activist, said, “We are disappointed and angry but at the same time have hope that justice will be done in this issue as it has been challenged in the Supreme Court. Essentiality was not the issue before the High Court, the issue was uniform. If we wanted to know the essentiality then we would have gone to religious scholars and not the High Court. The High Court should have decided on religious freedom based on constitutional rights.”             

Simra Ansari, a student activist, Jamia Millia Islamia, said on the one hand it is said that Muslim women remain confined to the four walls but when they go out to raise their voice and start asking questions and demand their rights, the right wing groups start attacking them. What is happening these days is a well-planned thought that when hijab-wearing Muslim women are not allowed to study, how can they raise questions and demand their rights. We are being given choice either to live with identity or study without hijab. We want to make it clear here that we will protect both our identity and our educational right and we will not choose among identity and educational rights.

Huma Masih, a student activist and content writer, while addressing media persons, said, the very verdict will have multiple impact on women wearing hijab because even before the judgement we have seen how Muslim women were attacked through social media and even on streets. It will have psychological impact as well. It is yet to be seen how this judgment will unfold. Masih said she believed hooliganism and violence would not only impact Muslim women but also other communities who want their culture to be adopted by the state. Social democracy is the need of the hour. In the hijab issue, women’s groups like women’s commission or all those fighting for the rights of women have also not played their part. We are disappointed with the judgement but hope that justice will be done by the Supreme Court.

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