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Karnataka burqa row: The politics of religious identity

A piece of cloth that is used to assert one's religious identity has taken an ugly, political turn in the current burqa row in Karnataka.

Who would have imagined that a piece of cloth could be used as a cover for pitiful and anti-national politics? So much so that even the ones (the alleged thekedaars of Islam) garnering thousands of likes on pictures in a swimsuit or a short dress instantly drape a so-called ‘pink hijab’ to cover their venomous propaganda. 

Want to oppose a Bill? Don a ‘burqa.’ Want to have a Hindu-free land? Hide a stone under a ‘burqa.’ Want to revive political relevance? Chant religious slogans from within a ‘burqa.’ Such a multi-functional piece of cloth! 

But of course, it is just a piece of cloth. How can anyone have a problem with it? Let’s try and understand this from two perspectives. 

Exposing the politics and not the religious hypocrisy 

Narratives are built not just on emotion, but logic. There is a reason why the left manage to succeed even in their irrational propaganda. Let’s take the Udupi ‘hijab’ row for instance. One day, a handful of girls decide to show up in hijab at their school gate. It takes minutes for the left ecosystem to make it a piece of national and international news with poor Lavanya still awaiting justice. 

The non-left ecosystem instantly gets into the defensive, trying to prove how Hinduism is more progressive than Islam and debating on ‘bindi vs burqa.’ While they kept busy in this narrative, the Campus Front of India swiftly gathers hundreds of burqa glad girls, hosts talks on ‘Systematic Hindutva Manipulation in Education System,’ and the ‘leader of tukde tukde gang as labeled by Modiji’- Congress hires their loyal to quote Quran in court to justify the need for non-uniformity in schools. 

Image Source: Twitter’

Campus Front of India (CFI) is the students wing of the Islamist group Popular Front of India (PFI) which is banned in several states for its radicalised activities.

Image Source: OpIndia

Now, look at how seamlessly their ecosystem works. Malala – a Pakistan-origin girl shot in the head by Islamic terrorists for seeking education tweets, “Refusing to let girls go to school in their hijabs is horrifying. Objectification of women persists — for wearing less or more. Indian leaders must stop the marginalisation of Muslim women.”

Image Source: Twitter

Don’t know about Malala, but the heads of anyone reading this piece of irony will surely explode. College was definitely not asking the girls to choose between education and hijab. In fact, the girls have made it clear that education is secondary, hijab is their priority. The girls are choosing hijab over education. But look at how the machinery is working.

Sadly, the right ecosystem is still preaching how Islam should embrace progressiveness. What stops us from tagging Congress repeatedly to the incident and holding them responsible for it? Why can’t we continue to make it a political issue rather than allowing them to pivot this into a religious issue only to hold us responsible for it? Why are we not hosting talks on ‘Religion and Politics’ to ensure nobody can play the victim?

The real oppressors

Now let’s talk about the real oppressors and the sad reality. Looking at the pictures uploaded by the ‘thekedaars’ one might think, ‘aren’t they progressive already?’

Sadly, it is but only for a privileged few. And these privileged ones are those who in reality oppress their own women to continue to use them as ‘victim fodder.’ 

Here’s one article by The Times Of India quoting seven women who say ‘My hijab is none of your business.’ 

Image Source: The Times of India

However, the irony is, where is the choice in the verse quoted by Mr Kamat?

Image Source: Twitter

And here is an article about an Iranian woman who risked her life to start the ‘free hijab movement.’ So if ‘hijab is really a personal choice’, why is it being enforced upon a certain section of women? And why are these ‘hijab is my personal choice’ gangs not moving to countries where ‘hijab is a compulsion’ suiting their liking? 

It is a ‘choice’ for the privileged who will not get killed should they choose not to wear one. For others, it remains a symbol of oppression.

After writing 550 odd words and thinking about the women forced into this piece of cloth either by force or brainwashing, I only feel pity for their ‘guinea pig’ like situation. Yes, religion and religious identity are a matter of choice and privacy, but it is also a matter of politics. 

Politics of violence, division, inequality and hatred. Hope the young Muslim women realize this and break through the shackles of ‘burqa politics.’ 

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