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Tabassum Shaik who topped Karnataka exams says she chose education over hijab, usual suspects spread fake news pandering to Islamist narrative

While Tabassum Shaik herself said she stopped wearing hijab in college after it was banned as she chose education over hijab, Islamists claimed that she was harassed for wearing hijab

On April 21, 2023, Karnataka’s 2nd PUC Result 2023 was released. Among the highest scorers was Tabassum Shaik, who received 593 points out of 600 and placed first in the Arts Stream. After the results were out, Tabassum Shaik said that she preferred to choose “education over hijab,” referring to the recent hijab controversy in the state. However, Islamists chose to distort her comments to claim that she topped exams wearing hijab.

The Islamo-apologists on social media quickly picked her photographs in hijab to spread fake news pondering to Islamist narrative that relentlessly backed wearing the burqa and hijab on educational campuses. These Twitter users essentially implied that the Muslim girl topped the exam despite getting troubled for wearing the hijab, ignoring the fact that the girl herself said she adhered to the school uniform norms by saying that she chose education over hijab.

She had specifically said that she gave up the hijab in college after it was banned in educational institutions with uniform norms in the state, while earlier she use to wear hijab in school and college. But the Islamists tried to present an opposite picture.

It started with Prashant Bhushan who tweeted a picture of Tabassum Shaik with her parents. The photo was edited by a social media handle named Inquilab India. The message in the image formed the basis of the misinformation shared by Prashant Bhushan and others on Twitter. The message read, “Hijab covers the head, not the brain. Congratulations Tabassum. Tabassum Shaik, the victim of the Hijab ban in Karnataka, tops the state board exam. Despite harassment and protests, she continued her education and secured 1st rank with 98.3% in the 12th class PUC exam.”

The same image was shared by Dr SY Quraishi who was the former chief election commissioner of India. Notably, Quraishi is the author of a book titled ‘The Population Myth: Islam, Family Planning and Politics in India’. He wrote in his tweet, “Well done Tabassum!”

Another Twitter handle named @@Gabbar0099 tweeted this image with a caption that said, “‘Tabassum Sheikh’ secured State 1st Rank in 12th Class in Karnataka. Karnataka’s BJP govt banned hijabs in schools and colleges last year, BJP leader called Hijab wearing Muslim girls terrorists and used the media to cook up fake stories to hound, heckle & humiliate them. and now the 12th result which was just announced, a Hijab-wearing Muslim female student Tabassum Sheikh from Bengaluru tops the state!”

NDTV journalist Swati Chaturvedi also joined the bandwagon as she shared the image and wrote in the caption, “Very well done Tabassum, sorry for the harassment you faced & you came through it like a star.”

Advocate Somnath Bharti who writes ‘nothing is greater than humanity’ in his Twitter profile’s display name also shared this image and wrote in the caption, “Heartiest Congratulations Tabassum! There was no better way to shut the mouths of those who want to remain politically relevant only by invoking religious sentiments! Well done!”

RJ Sayema also shared this image.

It is notable that Tabassum Shaik is a student of Nagarathnamma Meda Kasturiranga Setty Rashtriya Vidyalaya, NMKRV in Bengaluru, Karnataka. “I decided to give up the hijab (in college) and pursue my education. We will need to make some sacrifices for education,” Shaikh was quoted as telling The Indian Express.

Tabassum reportedly told the media that she attended all of her classes in a hijab every day up until the court order was issued. Her desire to further her studies and the lessons about respecting the law she learned from her parents led her to decide to stop wearing the hijab.

According to reports, Tabassum’s parents wholeheartedly supported her decision and her pursuit towards her education. Her father Abdul Khaum Shaik told his daughter it is important to “follow the law of the land. Education is more important for the children”.

Tabassum shared that she would follow the orders issued by the government. She would wear her hijab to her college campus and remove it before attending classes. She added that on the day she emerged as a topper, she donned her hijab and met her Principal and no one objected to her decision.

Despite this statement by the girl, so-called liberals on social media insinuated that she was harassed for wearing hijab yet she became a topper.

Last year the Karnataka high court upheld a government order banning religious attire such as hijab or burqa in educational institutions and asked students to follow the dress code of educational institutions. Many Muslim students had taken to the streets to protest against the decision, with many wearing hijab and skull caps to classes while many even boycotting appearing for exams after being urged to adhere to the court ruling. Tabassum Shaik, however, decided to prioritise education over the politicisation of the issue and the ensuing state-wide protests and unrest.

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