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Muslim leaders condemn ban of burqas and skull caps in Mumbai college

Updated on: 05 October,2016 05:00 PM IST  | 
Team mid-day |

With Kurla college allegedly banning Muslim students from wearing burqas and skullcaps, community leaders deride the move as unconstitutional

Muslim leaders condemn ban of burqas and skull caps in Mumbai college

Representational Picture

A day after the Bunts Sangha Anna Leela College in Kurla (East) allegedly banned its Muslim students from wearing burqas and skullcaps, leaders across communities have condemned the act of Islamophobia, and warned that it could take a toll on the democratic fabric of the nation.

“If college students are allowed to wear clothes of their choice, a particular lot shouldn’t be singled out,” said Zakia Soman, founder, Muslim Mahila Andolan. “This is not the kind of the secularism that our Constitution upholds. The Indian Constitution supports all kinds of diversity and any kind of imposition that goes against this is unconstitutional.”

According to Soman, the fact that such incidents are taking place in educational institutions is shocking. “Those who teach in colleges and schools are supposed to be the torch-bearers of all the values propagated in the Constitution. People from different communities should be taught to stop looking at each other with suspicion simply because of the way they dress. Such things make us less human.”

'Naqaab pehna is part of our culture'
Maulana Zahir Abbas Rizvi, national secretary of All India Shia Personal Law Board, which is located in Bhindi Bazaar, said that educational institutions are places of learning, where you teach students to become disciplined individuals, and not bigots.

“If someone is hiding their body, what is the harm? Naqaab pehna is part of our culture…it is mazahabi. If you think someone is dangerous simply because they are wearing a burqa, you should hire a female assistant to check these students. It is these issues that are ruining the democratic fabric of our nation,” said Rizvi.

Islamic scholar Naushad Usman fears that banning attire that holds strong, religious significance, will not only hurt the sentiments of Muslim students, but also trigger outrage and hate among them. “Hiding the face is not an alien ritual in India. There was a time when Hindu women also practised parda. Wearing a burqa is linked with freedom of expression for Muslim women. Compelling them to remove the burqa, is akin to molestation. Let the girls decide what to wear,” Usman said.

“If we can allow the turban and the teeka on the forehead, what problem can anyone have with the skullcap and burqa?” Usman added.

Other CommunitiesSpeak
Kapil Patil, MLC from the teachers’ constituency said that the college’s move was “disrespectful”. “They cannot issue mandates like this, unless the institute has a set uniform. There is no regulation in this regard. As an educational institution, a college should maintain decorum by ensuring that the kids wear appropriate clothing. Regulation on the colour and types of clothes, should not be imposed by any institution,” he said.

Such issues have become commonplace in educational institutions and until there is no clear regulations they will keep cropping up, Father Francis Swamy, coordinator of Jesuit School Board said. “The government and educational institutions need to work in tandem to bring in clear instructions in this regard. Schools have uniforms to give a sense of equality in classrooms, so that that there is no identification of any child based on his/her caste, class etc. But, in case of colleges, if there is no uniform, there is no clear mandate. Regulations in this regard need to be specified so that such clashes can be avoided.”

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