In a rare video appearance, the chief of the banned terror outfit Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has praised Muskaan Zainab, who was one of the Petitioners before the Karnataka High Court and who has approached the Supreme Court against the Judgment of the Karnataka High Court upholding restriction on wearing of hijab inside classrooms of government schools.

Ayman al-Zawahiri took charge as the head of Al-Qaeda after the killing of Osama bin Laden. In his earlier video appearances, he has claimed responsibility for various terror attacks and threatened terror strikes.

As per Hindustan Times, the nine-minute video has been verified by SITE Intelligence, an American non-governmental organization that tracks online activities of such organizations.

As per reports, in the video is titled "The Noble Woman of India", Zawahiri is seen reciting a poem he composed to praise Muskaan Zainab, calling her "sister", after he was impressed with her videos on social media. He is also reported to have said that he was moved by her raising "cries of Takbeer". Zawahiri is said to have criticised countries that have banned hijab.

In a viral video of the protests that happened in Karnataka, Muskaan Zainab wearing a hijab was seen shouting "Allahu Akbar" to a group of boys shouting "Jai Shri Ram". It has come out subsequently in the media that her father Abdul Shukur is a district leader of the Popular Front of India (PFI).

Zeeshan Siddique, a Congress MLA from Maharashtra had visited Muskaan and had gifted her an iPhone and a smartwatch. Deobandi organisation Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind had announced a reward of Rs. 5 lakh to Muskaan. Mayor of Malegaon Municipal Corporation Tahera Shaikh Rasheed had announced that the 'Urdu Ghar' in the city will be named after Muskaan.

Unseen Hands

Karnataka Home Minister Araga Jnanendra has responded to the Al-Qaeda video and has said that it establishes the involvement of "unseen hands" behind the hijab row in the state.

In its Judgment, the Karnataka High Court had said, "We are dismayed as to how all of a sudden that too in the middle of the academic term the issue of hijab is generated and blown out of proportion by the powers that be. The way, hijab imbroglio unfolded gives scope for the argument that some 'unseen hands' are at work to engineer social unrest and disharmony. Much is not necessary to specify. We are not commenting on the ongoing police investigation lest it should be affected. We have perused and returned copies of the police papers that were furnished to us in a sealed cover. We expect a speedy & effective investigation into the matter and culprits being brought to book, brooking no delay". (emphasis added)

During the hearing of the hijab cases before the Karnataka High Court, the three-judge Bench had enquired about the Campus Front of India (CFI) after a Counsel spoke about how the issue cropped up. "The governments must be having some inputs about these organisations", the Chief Justice has asked in Court while also asking, "all of a sudden how has this erupted?"

Advocate S.S. Naganand had pointed out that some teachers were threatened by the organisation and that a police complaint has been lodged by a teacher. "You should have disclosed it to us. In all fairness, the state is bound to disclose it to us. You have not done it", the Bench had said and had asked the Advocate General of Karnataka, "Are you afraid or what?"