While lawyers continued their arguments on the fourth day of the hearing of the cases challenging the restrictions imposed on the wearing of hijab in schools, politicians and social media influencers are not far behind in trying to defend the practice of wearing hijab.
Some of the arguments made outside the Court in support of wearing of hijab are as follows:-
Women need hijab as Mobiles need cover
The national spokesperson of the political party All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and Ex-MLA, Waris Pathan argued in a television debate that women need hijab just like mobile phones need cover and screen guard for its protection.
"Why do you keep mobile in cover? To protect it. Why do put a screen guard on mobile? So that it does not spoil. Just like that our sisters wear hijab to protect their face", argued Pathan on an Aaj Tak news debate.
Hijab hides beauty, decreases rapes
Karnataka Congress MLA Zameer Ahmed said that hijab is meant to hide the beauty of girls when they grow up. He argued that the rate of rapes in India is high because women don't use hijab. He also said that only those women who are concerned about their own wellbeing would wear hijab.
More the clothes, greater the civilization
Many people are quoting Tawakkol Karman, a Yemeni journalist and Nobel Peace Laureate who said, when asked about hijab, "Man in the early times was almost naked, and as his intellect evolved, he started wearing clothes. What I am today and what I am wearing represents the highest level of thought and civilization that man has achieved and is not regressive. It's the removal of clothes again that is regressive back to ancient times."
Opposing hijab is equivalent to justifying genocide
Former member of Rajya Sabha and RLD leader Shahid Siddiqui said on twitter, "Now we understand how Nazis were able to make German middle class support and justify Genocide" while criticizing Columnist Tavleen Singh who wrote in opposition to the practice of wearing hijab.
Banning hijab in classrooms is equivalent to forcefully stripping women
Bollywood actress Swara Bhasker compared the restriction on wearing hijab in classrooms to forcefully stripping women, by saying on twitter that she was reminded of how Draupadi was forcefully stripped in Mahabharata.
Women without hijab are like ice candy without wrapper that fell on mud
In a video that has become viral on social media, a person is shown purchasing two ice candies, one with a wrapper and the other without a wrapper. He drops both on the ground to pick up both and offer the one without wrapper to another person, who asks for the one with the wrapper. He then explains the importance of hijab by comparing it to the wrapper. He says that those who don't understand the importance of hijab may eat the ice candy without the wrapper, while he eats the one with wrapper and says that it tastes good. (watch video)
Legal Arguments v. Ground Reality
Some of the above comments indicate that an attempt is being made to create panic in the Muslim community and create a communal rift in society.
More importantly, the above comments made in support of wearing hijab or burkha indicate how the common man perceives religious dictates for women to cover themselves.
With such perception in the minds of men in the patriarchal Muslim community, there is bound to be social pressure upon girls to wear hijab. Though the elite minority in the Muslim community may claim that wearing of hijab is an exercise of free choice, that is not the case with the mass majority.
Girls or women who do not wear the hijab are judged. Hence, even though the women claim that they have freely chosen to wear burkha or hijab, there is always an element of coercion involved. The question is whether such practices should be permitted inside educational institutions and what values would students learn from such practices.
The Karnataka High Court will have to take into account the ground reality to decide whether such a practice, even if mandated by religion, passes the test of Constitutional Morality.
[The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. Verdictum does not assume any responsibility or liability for the contents of the article.]