On Thursday, February 24, 2022 at 19:30 GMT:
A recent hijab ban at some schools in southern India has reignited a debate over religious freedom in the world’s largest democracy. Citing new government restrictions, schools across Karnataka are prohibiting students from wearing religious symbols such as headscarves in class. Videos of young Muslim women and girls being forced to remove their hijabs before entering school have gone viral and sparked widespread protests in India and around the world.
The ban comes as India grows less tolerant of its Christian and Muslim minority populations under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) party. Elections in northern India this month are seen as a litmus test for Modi’s popular support. Critics say BJP officials are using the hijab ban to fire up far-right Hindu voters, and to distract from the party’s weak pandemic response and approach to the economy.
“We have been wearing hijab for years without any problem but now, the issue has been suddenly taken up by the BJP … to rake up communal tensions,” said Kaneez Fatima, a Congress member of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly.
However, government officials say they are simply banning any religious symbols in public schools that “disturb equality, integrity and public law and order.” The ban is being upheld while the Karnataka High Court consider a petition on its legality.
In this episode of The Stream, we’ll discuss what’s happening in Karnataka, how it’s related to an election taking place 1,400 km away and the growing polarisation between India’s Hindu and Muslim communities.
In this episode of The Stream, we are joined by:
Fatima Khan, @khanthefatima
Journalist, The Quint
Shazia Ilmi, @shaziailmi
Saira Shah Halim, @sairashahhalim
Educator, Writer, & Activist