New Delhi: Kerela’s Muslim Educational Society, which controls a total of 150 educational institutions, banned “any dress that covers the face” for girls on all the campuses it runs.
While avoiding the word “niqab” (the veil that Muslim women wear for religious reasons), the MES circular, in effect, prohibits veils of any kind.
Fazal Gafoor, MES Kerala president, in a circular, issued on April 19, 2019, said, “The MES will not encourage any type of veils on its campus … Managers of each MES institution will have to ensure that girl students do not come to the campus with their faces covered. They are hereby asked to include this as a rule on the campus from academic year 2019-20.”
However, Gafoor claims that the decision to ban veils was taken before the Sri Lankan government banned the burqa after the Easter Sunday bombings on April 21.
The MES circular further said, “MES, which aims at the social and cultural progress of the Muslim community, insists that students, even while maintaining high standards in curricular and extra-curricular activities, do follow a certain decorum in dress code too … Under these circumstances, dresses that are unacceptable to mainstream society – whether they are modern or religious – cannot be promoted.”
Although some Muslim organiZations have come out against the ban. Samastha Kerala Jem-Iyyathul Ulema state president Syed Muhammad Jiffiri Muthokoya Thangal, while questioning the ban and MES’s authority over it, said, “Women covering the face is part of our faith and it has been prevailing from the time of the Prophet Muhammad. There are religious organizations to take decisions on matters related to faith and MES need not meddle in the issue.”
Dismissing the objections, Gafoor said, “The high court has given educational institutions the freedom to decide their dress codes. There is no need for any controversy over the issue.”