Pakistan summons Indian envoy over hijab ban in Karnataka schools

Islamabad's ire was directed at the order banning Muslim students from wearing the hijab in the Indian state of Karnataka.


A Muslim woman holds a placard as she takes part in a protest organised by All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMM) against the recent hijab ban at a few colleges in Karnataka state, at Shaheen Bagh in New Delhi on February 9. — Reuters

February 10, 2022

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan on Wednesday deplored the “reprehensible act” of banning Muslim students from wearing hijab in the Indian state of Karnataka and summoned the Indian envoy to convey Islamabad’s concerns.

Students at a government-run high school in the Indian state were told not to wear hijabs last month, an edict that soon spread to other educational institutions in the state. A hijab-clad student was also heckled and jeered at by a mob of Hindutva supporters in Karnataka on Tuesday.

In a statement issued today, the Foreign Office (FO) said that the Indian Charge d’Affaires was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was conveyed the government’s “grave concern and condemnation on the deeply reprehensible act” of banning Muslim students from wearing hijab in Karnataka.

“The Charge d’ Affaires was urged to convey to the government of India Pakistan’s extreme concern over the anti-hijab campaign, being spearheaded by RSS-BJP combine in Karnataka, which is part of its larger exclusionist and majoritarian agenda aimed at dehumanising and demonising Muslim women,” the FO said.

The Indian diplomat was also conveyed Pakistan’s concern that religious intolerance, negative stereotyping, stigmatisation and discrimination against Muslims was continuing unabated almost two years after the 2020 Delhi riots, which claimed the lives of 50 Muslims.

“The government of Pakistan is also alarmed at the deafening silence of the BJP leadership and the absence of discernable action against Hindutva proponents openly calling for [the] genocide of Muslims at the recently held Dharam Sansad in Haridwar, Uttarakhand,” the statement said, referring to calls for the mass killing of Muslims by Hindutva leaders in India.

It was emphasised to the Indian envoy that the government of India must fulfil its responsibility to hold the perpetrators of harassment against women in Karnataka to account and take adequate measures to ensure the safety, security and well-being of Muslim women, the statement added.

“He was further urged to impress upon the government of India to take immediate action against [the] perpetrators and abettors of anti-Muslim violence in [the] Indian states of Assam, Tripura, Gurugram and Uttarakhand and bring justice to the victims of [the] Delhi riots,” the FO said.

Pakistan also called on the international community, including the United Nations and the organisation of Islamic Cooperation, to take notice of the “worrying level of Islamophobia in India” and prevail upon Indian authorities to prevent systematic human rights violations against minorities in the country.

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