Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Burkha ban in college

St. Aloysius’ College is in news for its rule that students should show their faces in class rooms. Students who come wearing burkha have to show their faces. The rule is in prospectus. Some have called it Burkha ban. Muslim clergy is said to be opposed to the rule.

St. Aloysius’ College has come to the rescue of Muslim female students who are under pressure from Muslim male students to wear burkha. Muslim female students don’t want to wear burkha. Parents of those female students don’t want their daughters to wear burkha.

In West Bengal, Muslim male students had made life difficult for a Muslim female lecturer. She defied them. The management had succumbed to pressure from that Taliban and had transferred the lecturer to some other place.

Colleges have a right to make rules. Students who want to study there must follow the rules. Some years back a college in Bantwal faced such a problem. A Muslim student came to college wearing burkha. Some Hindu students protested and said they too would come wearing religious dress. The Muslim student was asked to stop wearing burkha. A female Muslim lecturer tried to make that Muslim student understand and give up burkha in college but the student did not agree. She stopped attending college. The college management faced hostile questioning by TV channels. Then came Nicolas Sarkozy’s statement “Burkha is not welcome in France.” That flummoxed TV journalists.

Islam does not say a woman should cover her face. Islam says a woman should be modestly dressed. Recently Emir of Qatar visited India. His wife did not cover her face. There is no violation of freedom of religion when Muslim female students are told not to cover their faces in college. Muslim clerics who want Muslim female students to cover their faces should start colleges for them. Muslims have Yenepoya Medical College in Mangalore. They can have other colleges. It is not for Muslims to dictate the rules in Christian colleges.

Till some years back St. Aloysius’ college was a boys’ college.

Sections of population are getting talibanised. Some years back there were no such problems from Muslim female students.

Covering a face by wearing burkha is different from a Sikh wearing turban or a nun wearing her habit. In both cases there is no covering of face. Many Hindu women cover their faces in different ways. The college rule prohibits covering faces and applies to all female students irrespective of religion. There was a report that St. Edward’s School in Simla has banned turbans.

If students come wearing burkha lecturers cannot be sure of the identity of the students. Instead of one student somebody else may be present.

Burkha is a security issue. Terrorists can come wearing burkha. That happened in Kabul. Three men wore burkha and came in a car and got inside the compound of Indian guest house and shot people. In Australia bank robbers used burkha. In three cases babies were stolen by women wearing burkha.

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