Amnesty International Says India Must Stop ‘Vicious’ Crackdown On Muslim Protesters - IAMC

Amnesty International Says India Must Stop ‘Vicious’ Crackdown On Muslim Protesters

Amnesty International, a leading global human rights group, has said India must immediately end a “vicious” crackdown on Muslims who took to the streets to protest against the ruling party official’s remarks about Prophet Muhammad and his wife Aisha.

Authorities were “selectively and viciously cracking down on Muslims who dare to speak up … against the discrimination faced by them,” Amnesty International’s Aakar Patel said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Cracking down on protesters with excessive use of force, arbitrary detention and punitive house demolitions … is in complete violation of India’s commitments under international human rights law.”

Thousands of Muslims have taken to the streets across India to protest against anti-Islamic comments made by two members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Two Muslim teenagers were killed and hundreds of others arrested last week in nationwide protests over the comments, which embroiled India in a diplomatic furore and caused widespread outrage in the Muslim world.

Amnesty demanded an “immediate and unconditional release” of the jailed protesters.

Supreme Court Refuses To Take Up Petitions From Muslim Girls Banned From Wearing Hijab At Educational Institutions Even Though They Are Losing Education

Appeals filed in India’s Supreme Court challenging Karnataka High Court’s conclusion in February that wearing hijab is not an essential practice in Islam has been in limbo for several months.

The petitions, filed mostly by affected girl students, raised the question whether the State could interfere if a student wore a hijab to college without causing any harm to others and under the firm belief that it was a part of her religious observance and practice.

Photo: The Hindu

The students also brought to the fore the issue whether a woman’s dignity and the right to access to education should suffer because her dress code could not be accommodated by the authorities of an educational institution.

The Supreme Court in the S. R. Bommai case of 1994 had observed that “religious freedom is the hallmark of pluralism and inclusiveness”. The Constituent Assembly debates from 1947-49 note how the establishment of a secular State was an act of faith, the onus on the majority community to show that they could behave towards others in a generous, fair and just way.

The case was repeatedly mentioned in court during March and April for urgent hearing. The court had assured that they would be listed. However, the appeals remain to be heard.

This, despite the fact that in February, the Supreme Court had assured the students protection of their constitutional rights and intervention at an “appropriate time”.

‘Violation of right to privacy’

One of the pending petitions filed by Niha Naaz, represented by Anas Tanwir, had raised the issue of right to privacy. Ms. Naaz had argued that denying Muslim girls like her access to education, and thus, punishing them for wearing hijab to college, was a violation of their right to privacy.

“Freedom of conscience forms a part of the right to privacy,” her petition said.

Any infringement of her right to privacy should be on the basis of a valid law, for a legitimate state interest and the law must be proportionate. No law prohibited hijab, she said.

Ms. Naaz argued that the High Court judgment had created a “dichotomy of freedom of religion and freedom of conscience”.

“This freedom would include the freedom to lawfully express one’s identity in the manner of their liking,” the student referred to the Supreme Court judgment in Navtej Singh Johar case.

She said that students like her had expected the High Court to quash a State government order of February 5 directing college development committees to prescribe uniforms for them.

She termed the State government’s order as a “ridiculing attack” on Muslim students wearing hijab under the “guise of attaining secularity and equality on the basis of uniform”.

She said the State could not prescribe uniforms for students. The law did not require a student to be punished for not wearing a particular uniform.

Karnataka Hijab Row: Two Muslim Girl Students Get Noc, One Takes Transfer Certificate

In Karnataka’s Mangaluru district, two Muslim girl students who protested against the prohibition of hijab at the university college in the city have taken no-objection certificates (NOC) from the college to join other colleges, while one has been issued a transfer certificate (TC).

Of the three girl students, two had held a press conference and questioned the decision of the university to strictly implement the uniform rule inside the campus.

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Another girl, who joined the press conference, has written a letter of apology to the college authorities and is attending online classes, college principal Anasuya Rai said.

A M.Sc (chemistry) Muslim student hailing from Kerala has also taken a transfer certificate citing ill health, Rai said.

The NOC will enable the students to join other undergraduate colleges. They will be issued a TC when any other college approves their admission.

Mangalore University vice-chancellor P S Yadapadithaya had announced that the university will make special arrangements for Muslim girl students if they are not willing to adhere to uniform rules and want to join other colleges which do not have the restriction.

At the beginning of January this year, a dispute pertaining to school uniforms was reported in the Indian state of Karnataka, when some Muslim students of a junior college who wanted to wear hijab to classes were denied entry on the grounds that it was a violation of the college’s uniform policy.