Amid growing outrage over Muslim students in Karnataka being denied permission to wear hijabs, controversial BJP MP Pragya Thakur – out on bail as a key accused in the Malegaon blasts terror case – said “(only) people who are not safe in their houses need to wear a hijab”.
The Lok Sabha MP, who has a history of making incendiary comments, also declared “there is no need to wear a hijab (in public)” because Hindus “worship women”.
“No need to wear hijab anywhere. People who are not safe in their houses wear hijab. You have a madrasa. If you wear hijab there we have nothing to do… outside, where there is ‘Hindu samaj‘, they are not required…” she said at an event organised at a temple in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhopal.
“Hijab is purdah. Purdah should be (used) against those who see you with evil eyes. But it is certain Hindus don’t see them with evil eyes as they worship women,” she said.
“You should wear hijabs in your homes…”
— Anurag Dwary (@Anurag_Dwary) February 17, 2022
Controversy over students banned from wearing hijabs in Karnataka classrooms erupted in December after six students in Udupi district challenged the restriction.
Over the next few weeks, protests spilled over into neighbouring districts and exploded after right-wing Hindu groups jumped in brandishing saffron scarves and flags, leading to tense stand-offs and disturbing scenes of young girls being heckled and turned away from educational institutions.
The Karnataka High Court is presently hearing a petition from the Udupi students, whose lawyers yesterday pointed out “hundreds of religious symbols – dupattas, bangles, turbans, crosses and bindis” were worn without question every day, but the hijab was targeted on religious grounds.
The Karnataka government temporarily closed schools and colleges last week.
They re-opened this week to scenes of students and teachers being forced to remove hijabs and burqas (the latter in public) in line with a contentious interim court order that bans the wearing of all religious symbols. It was not clear if indeed symbols of all religions were not allowed.