On Monday (February 22), the headmistress of a Christian convent school tendered an apology for barring a female Muslim student from attending classes in her hijab. The incident took place at the Little Flower UP School in Mananthavady in the Wayanad district of Kerala.
It must be mentioned that the headmistress Sr Roshna had earlier reprimanded the Muslim student for superseding the uniform rule. She had asked her parents to take a Transfer Certificate (TC) in case the child wanted to wear religious attire instead of the uniform to school. Following a police complaint by the girl’s parents, coupled with the intimidatory tactics of political groups, the convent school administration succumbed to the demands.
A copy of the apology letter by the school headmistress had gone viral on social media. “On 17/2/22 at the Mananthavadi little flower UP school, my conversation with a child’s guardian had some lapses and it was leaked to the media, thereby worsening the matter. But this was not done with the intention to hurt anyone nor hurt any religious sentiments,” she said.
Sr. Roshna emphasised that students will have the right and freedom to wear the school uniform like they used to do in the past. She added that the school authorities had no further objection to the wearing of hijab in schools. A meeting was convened by Wayanad Sub-collector R Sreelakshmi regarding the matter and it was attended by political party officials, cops, education department officials and members of student organisations.
As per a report in Janam TV, the headmistress of Little Flower UP School had initially argued that young children should grow up without restrictions, and that none should be allowed to bring their religious affairs to school. She was willing to hand over a TC to parents who prioritised hijab in schools over education and uniformity in the school’s dress code
The Muslim girl, a student of Class V, had earlier complied with the school rules but came to attend classes in hijab and covered hands on February 16, amidst the ongoing controversy in Karnataka. She was denied permission, following which her parents came to the school and argued with Sr. Roshna. They had even lodged an FIR against the school. The demand for religious exemption at the convent school gained momentum after members of the ruling Student Federation of India (SFI), the student wing of the Communist party, took to the streets.
SFl Wayanad District Committee protested demanding apology from the headmistress of Mananthavady Little Flower School for prohibiting headscarf in the school campus.— SFI KERALA (@Sfikerala_) February 22, 2022
Upon protest, the school authorities apologized & assured for not repeating their mistake. pic.twitter.com/mbZS7VrIlg
Last month, the Kerala government had made it clear that the Student Police Cadets (SPC) cannot wear hijab, scarf or full sleeves over their uniform. SPC Project is an initiative by the Kerala police in collaboration with the government to make children conscious about laws, discipline and civic sense.
The development came days after an 8th Std student of GHSS Kuttiady named Riza Nahan moved the Kerala High Court, alleging that she wasn’t allowed to take part in the parade for wearing a full sleeve uniform with a hijab. In her petition, she claimed that it was her ‘fundamental right’ to wear hijab and full sleeves. Riza had claimed that she was stopped from participating in the parade due to modifications in her uniform.
Karnataka hijab controversy
Recently, some Muslim students from the PU College in Karnataka filed a petition in the High Court to allow them to attend classes wearing Hijab. They were denied entry into classes because the college management stated that the hijab is not part of the uniform and it cannot be allowed in classes. Since then, the ‘students’ have been protesting while wearing burqas.
The Muslim students had started wearing hijab and burqa to their school, college in defiance of the uniform rules since December 2021 after coming in touch with the Campus Front of India (CFI), the student wing of the Islamist outfit Popular Front of India (PFI) in October 2021. The students had admitted being in consultation with the CFI.