Government, Court cannot decide Muslim women should not wear hijab: Attorney
“If a Muslim woman thinks that wearing of hijab is conducive for her religion, no authority, no court can say otherwise,” senior advocate Dushyant Dave told to the Supreme Court of India on Monday.
A Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Hemant Gupta and Sudhanshu Dhulia was hearing a batch of petitions challenging the ban on wearing Hijab in educational institutions in Karnataka.
A batch of 23 petitions is listed before the bench. Some of them are writ petitions filed directly before the Supreme Court seeking the right to wear hijab for Muslim girl students while others are special leave petitions which challenge the judgment of the Karnataka High Court dated March 15 which upheld the hijab ban, according to Live Law.
“We may like it or may not like it, but that does not affect their right to wear hijab,” Dave said.
While arguing Dave quoted from the Ratilal Gandhi case – no outside authority has the right to say these are not essential religious practices. He quotes from the same case – “in cases of doubt, the court should take a common sense view… Can we say from a common sense view that hijab is not an essential practice?” asked Dave.
“Religious right is individualistic, it is the choice of an individual,” he said.
“I will show constituent assembly debates for Article 25. I will show what Sardar Patel, and Dr Ambedkar had feared. This was exactly what they feared. They forewarned us. I will also show what Sardar Patel said as Chairman of the Minority community. You will be surprised, their fears are turning to reality,” Dave said to the top court.
He also quotes HV Kamath, “When I say that a State should not identify itself with any particular religion, I do not mean to say that a State should be anti-religious or irreligious…We have certainly declared that India would be a secular State. But to my mind a secular state is neither a God-less State nor an irreligious nor an anti-religious State.”
Muslim Council of Britain calls for action against Hindutva extremism in Leicester
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has condemned the targeting of Muslim communities in Leicester by far-right Hindutva groups.
A statement from the MCB said: We call upon all communities to exercise restraint and for local leaders, including the police and politicians, to listen to the concerns of locals objectively and work constructively to diffuse the situation. We must all remain united as we have been for many years and not let this imported hate divide us.”
The MCB is the UK’s largest Muslim umbrella body with over 500 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques, charities and professional networks.
In recent days, there has been a heightening of tensions among the Hindu and Muslim communities of Leicester, as concerns grow about the rise of violent right-wing Hindutva extremism taking root locally.
On Saturday, groups of balaclava-clad men led a march, chanting Jai Shriram slogans rooted in Hindutva nationalist supremacism, along Green Lane Road – a predominantly Muslim and Sikh populated area.
This follows a series of provocations, including chanting outside Mosques, targeted mob attacks on Muslims, and vandalism to homes and businesses over recent months.
Groups of young people from both communities have subsequently come out on the streets to protest, resulting in physical altercations and running battles.
Whilst faith leaders have shared statements of solidarity and appealed for calm, there is criticism locally of the perceived inaction of law enforcement officers, who failed to disperse the mobs, despite long-standing concerns being raised.
At least 47 people have been arrested as of now; tensions still remain among local groups, and demonstrations continue. There is now a concern of this toxic brand of extremism, imported from India, spreading to other cities.
“Communities have expressed their deep concerns to me around the propaganda perpetuated by far-right groups in India and their Hindutva agenda, which we are now seeing expressed on British streets. These provocations have targeted Muslims, Sikhs, and other minorities and as a result, instigated hostilities between local communities in Leicester,” said MCB Secretary-General, Zara Mohammed.
“We do not believe these people represent the views of wider Hindu communities, with whom Muslims and Sikhs, among others, enjoy good relations in the UK, of which Leicester, historically, is a prime example. We condemn attacks against any place of worship or symbols of religion – hatred of any kind has no place in our society.”
Newspaper quotes police sources to confirm outsider Hindus caused Leceister violence
Concerns that outsiders have stirred up trouble in the city have heightened as it was discovered eight of those arrested were not from Leicestershire. Of these, five came from Birmingham, while one came from Solihull, one from Luton and one gave an address in Hounslow.
Reacting to the news, Sir Peter Soulsby, the city’s mayor, said it appeared to be the first evidence that people were travelling into Leicester to take part in the clashes.
“It does suggest that there are people with other battles to fight who are coming to Leicester to fight them. It’s distressing that they choose to do it in our city. We pride ourselves on good relations between communities,” he told the Guardian.
He added: “I have talked to many people across the communities since this trouble began, and they are utterly baffled by this. It does not represent anything that is simmering in Leicester, and does seem to have more to do with subcontinental politics.”
The past weekend saw a tense standoff between groups of Muslim and Hindu men and the police on Saturday evening. A demonstration on Sunday took place in response to an unplanned protest of Hindu men on Saturday, who marched through the city.