AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi on Tuesday said that Karnataka High Court’s judgment on Hijab has suspended fundamental rights to freedom of religion, culture, freedom of speech and expression.
The Hyderabad MP observed that one religion has been targetted and its religious practice banned. He said the High Court order has forced kids to choose between education and Allah’s commands.
Owaisi reacted to the High Court order with a series of tweets. “For Muslims it’s Allah’s command to be educated while also following his strictures (salah, hijab, roza, etc). Now govt is forcing girls to choose. So far judiciary has declared masjids, keeping a beard & now hijab as non-essential. What is left of free expression of beliefs?,” he asked.
He hoped that this judgment will not be used to legitimize the harassment of hijab-wearing women. One can only hope and eventually be disappointed when this starts happening to hijab-wearing women in banks, hospitals, public transport, etc, he said.
He hoped that petitioners would appeal before the Supreme Court. He also hoped that All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) and organisations of other religious groups would appeal against this judgment.
“Preamble to the Constitution says that one has LIBERTY of thought, EXPRESSION, belief faith, and WORSHIP. If it is MY belief & faith that covering my head is essential then I have a right to EXPRESS it as I deem fit. For a devout Muslim, Hijab is also an act of worship,” he wrote.
“It’s time to review the essential religious practice test. For a devout person, everything is essential & for an atheist nothing is essential. For a devout Hindu Brahmin, janeu is essential but for a non-Brahmin it may not be. It is absurd that judges can decide essentiality,” the MP added.
He opined that even other people of the same religion have no right to decide essentiality. “It is between the individual and God. State should be allowed to interfere in religious rights only if such acts of worship harm others. Headscarf does not harm anyone.”
The MP also stated that banning headscarf definitely harms devout Muslim women and their families as it prevents them from accessing education. “The excuse being used is that uniform will ensure uniformity. How? Will kids not know who’s from a rich/poor family? Do caste names not denote background?,” he asked.
“What does uniform do to prevent teachers from discriminating? Globally, the experience has been that reasonable accommodations are made in school, police & army uniforms to reflect diversity.”
Owaisi recalled that when Ireland’s government changed the rules for police uniform to allow Hijab and Sikh turban, Modi government had welcomed it. “So why double standards at home & abroad,” he asked, adding that Hijab and turbans of the uniform’s colours can be allowed to be worn.
“What is the consequence of all of this? First, govt created a problem where none existed. Children were wearing hijab, bangles, etc & going to school. Second, violence was instigated and counter-protests were held with saffron turbans. Are saffron turbans “essential”? Or only a “reaction” to hijab? Third, GO & HC order suspended fundamental rights. We saw media, police & admin harass hijab wearing students & even teachers. Kids have been even banned from writing exams. It’s a mass violation of civil rights,” the MP wrote.
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