Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Educational institutions and freedom of religion

Educational institutions have the right to make rules. Those who study in them have to abide by the rules.

People of India have freedom of religion.

It is unreasonable for any student to ask the management to change the rules because his/her religion says otherwise.

One Muslim student was not allowed to keep beard. He went to court. The Supreme Court dismissed his appeal. One judge talked of talibanisation. Some reacted strongly to that comment. The judge apologized. He should not have apologized. Now there is a review petition.

One Muslim female student did not want to abide by the dress code of SVS College, Bantwal, which forbade headscarf/burkha and could not attend the college.

It is not obligatory for a Muslim man to keep beard. Many Muslim men in India and abroad do not keep beard. Rafsanjani, who was President of Iran, did not keep beard. Most of the leaders in Pakistan do not keep beard.

In Islam woman is expected to dress modestly. Modesty is a matter of interpretation. Many Muslim women do not wear burkha/headscarf. It was strange to see some champions of women’s rights talking in favour of women wearing burkha/headscarf which otherwise is condemned as symbol of oppression and discrimination.

Freedom of religion which is subject to some limitations. What happens if everyone wants to exercise his/her freedom of religion in a college? What if a Digambar Jain or Naga Sadhu comes naked to a college claiming freedom of religion? What if a Muslim man asks lecturer to stop the class because it is time for Namaz? It is all right for a Muslim school to allow or ask its male students to keep beard and make burkha/headscarf compulsory to its female students but not all right for Muslim students to ask Non-Muslim schools and colleges to change their rules or exempt them from rules. If a Sikh man or Christian priest or nun wants admission in SVS College they have to follow the rules.

Most of the Muslim students follow the rules of schools and colleges without any problem. Few students create problems. Muslim students who follow the rules do not make news. Muslim students who do not follow the rules make news.

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