Footage circulating online shows Muslim women in India being forced to remove their hijabs before entering schools after some recently re-opened in the southern state of Karnataka.
Officials threatened students as well as staff with exclusion from classes as well as exams if they did not adhere to these new rules. And while some opted to turn around and go home, others were forced to remove their hijabs and abayas in public in order to step foot on the premises.
According to TRT World, a local student called Ayesha Imthiaz said it was “humiliating” to be asked to take off the hijab before entering her school which resumed classes on Monday.
One Karnataka official confirmed to the media that some students walked out of the exam room after authorities demanded they take off their headscarves.
“Seven students with hijabs were sitting for exams but the officers refused permission. They insisted on being allowed to wear it… Their parents were called and all seven then walked out of the exam hall and went home,” NDTV wrote as they cited the words of an official.
The news comes after heavy protests have been taking place around the country amid hijab bans in schools.
It all started when a government-run college in Karnataka closed the gates on their female, Muslim students, because they were all wearing the hijab or niqab. Video footage of the girls crying and pleading with staff to let them in just months before their final exams sparked a heated debate online.
“So sad. I have worn kumkuma and vibhuti to school. I was never stopped. How can anyone stop these girls wearing hijab or whatever they want. This is not the India or Karnataka we shd leave our kids. This is a violation of their rights and authorities shd be severely punished,” wrote one user.
Just a few days after the incident at the school gate, classmates turned up to the school wearing saffron scarves around their necks to signify that they supported the school’s approach in what has been slammed as a vile display of nationalism.
India is currently in the midst of an intense, religious clash with right-wing Hindu nationalists threatening to “eradicate” the Muslim population.
Hate crimes against Muslims have spiked in the past few months, with video footage and photographs being shared on social media showing them being attacked and beaten in the streets. Gangs of Hindu nationalists have been purposefully seeking out Muslim victims in order to intimidate them into submission and with the government remaining primarily silent on the issue, it’s been an extremely growing concern over the past few months.
Gregory Stanton, Founder of Genocide Watch, has warned that a “genocide could very well happen in India,” also adding that there are “early signs” of it occurring right now.