India’s home minister has said he favoured students wearing uniforms in school rather than any religious attire, but that his position might change once a court decides on the merits of a ban on the hijab in schools in the state of Karnataka.
The ban imposed by Karnataka on Feb. 5 has sparked protests by Muslim students and parents, and counter-protests by Hindu students, forcing authorities to close schools there earlier this month.
Muslims, who form about 13% of India’s 1.35 billion population, have denounced the curbs on the hijab – traditional attire worn by Muslim women which covers the hair and neck – as another sign of their marginalization in the mainly Hindu country.
Home Minister Amit Shah told the Network18 Group in an interview to be aired tonight that he would accept any court verdict on the matter.
“It is my personal belief that people of all religions should accept the school’s dress code,” he said.
“Ultimately, it has to be decided whether the country will function on the Constitution or whims. My personal belief only remains until the court makes a decision. And once the court makes a decision, then I should accept it, and everyone should accept it.”
The High Court of Karnataka will resume hearing the advocate-general of the state on Monday defending its ban after several Muslim students challenged the decision.
Karnataka’s move has also led to protests in some other parts of the country and drawn criticism from the United States and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.