Muskaan Khan, a 19-year-old hijab-wearing Muslim college student in Karnataka, India, has made history.
Heading to the college building to submit an assignment, a mob of right-wing Hindu fascists surrounded her shouting Jai Shri Ram (long live Ram [a Hindu god]).
Showing exemplary courage, she did not run away. Instead, she shouted back Allah-o Akbar (God is the Greatest).
The video on Twitter of this lone young girl confronting a saffron-clad Hindu mob, most of whom were not even college students, has gone viral.
Both the Karnataka state government ruled by Narendra Modi’s fascist party—the BJP—and the state High Court have issued orders to ban Islamic headscarves in colleges until the court issues a ruling.
This essentially endorses the Hindu fascists’ demands.
Until now, there was no such ban required by schools and colleges in the southern state where 18% of the population is Muslim.
In several interviews, especially the one she gave to the BBC Urdu service, Muskaan Khan said that she always wore the face-covering while going to college.
Inside the classroom, she would remove the face-covering.
The state education ministry has also jumped into the fray imposing a ban on religious dress.
Under this garb, it essentially targets Muslim female students depriving them of education.
The Islamic headscarf ban has caused outrage among Muslim students.
They say it’s an attack on their faith.
India’s secular constitution allows people to dress the way they want.
But under Modi’s fascist regime that has given free rein to Hindutva terrorists, Muslims are being targeted as never before.
Muslims have been attacked in their localities, their homes and businesses have been set on fire and in some instances, Muslims have been murdered in cold blood.
Even the police forces have, in some instances, joined Hindu terrorists in attacking Muslims.
The saffron-clad Hindu mob did not appear out of thin air.
Some commentators have linked it to Modi’s party, the BJP whipping up communal tensions to garner support in the forthcoming state elections.
This is a ploy he has used repeatedly with deadly consequences for Muslims.
In an interview with India’s NDTV news channel that was quoted by Al Jazeera, Muskaan Khan said:
“I was just there to submit an assignment; that’s why I entered the college. They were not allowing me to go inside just because I was [wearing] the burqa.”
She went on:
“After that, they started shouting the slogan ‘Jai Shri Ram’. (Hail Lord Ram). Then I started to scream ‘Allah Akbar’ (God is great),” she said, adding that she would keep fighting for her right to wear the hijab.
“Ten percent [of the protesters] were from the college but [the rest of them] were outsiders,” Ms. Khan said.
Protests against hijab ban have spread to other parts of India as well as overseas.
In India, people are divided on the issue. Even Bollywood actors have got involved.
Some have criticized the targeting of hijab-wearing Muslim students while others (Hema Malini, for instance) have sided with the Hindu fascists, using the rubric of “keeping religion of out of schools”.
Professor Noam Chomsky also criticized the “pathology of Islamophobia” that is growing rapidly in the west, was “taking its most lethal form in India where the Modi government is systematically dismantling Indian secular democracy and turning the country into a Hindu ethnocracy.”