Busted! Times Now anchor fails to make important distinction between ban on Islamic traditional veils

Tries to school Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai for her Tweet about the Hijab controversy in Karnataka; gets fact checked and schooled himself!

Hijab Controversy

Times Now chief Rahul Shivashankar chose to add his two bits on the ‘Saffron Scarf Vs Hijab’ controversy by trolling Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai for her comment “women have right to choose”. Malala, a world renowned advocate for education for girls and women, had tweeted that “refusing to let girls go to school in their hijabs is horrifying. Objectification of women persists — for wearing less or more. Indian leaders must stop the marginalisation of Muslim women”.



Triggered, Rahul Shivshankar attempted to get Malala’s attention by saying she “has never vocally slammed Norway that awarded her the Nobel Peace Prize even though it bans Burqa, Niqab in schools and colleges.”



However, as a news anchor, he seems to have missed a key distinction between the bans surrounding the traditional Muslim veils. In Norway, there is a ban on staff wearing the full veil in schools and nurseries. The ban essentially is on the full-face coverings such as the Niqab and Burqa, but not the Hijab. The Muslim girl students in Karnataka are opposing the ‘ban’ on hijabs or head covers.

For the uninitiated, the hijab is a headscarf that covers the hair, neck, and sometimes the shoulders. Meanwhile, the burqa is a larger head to toe covering garment that completely covers the face, and also comes in a variety of styles. There are many other types of veils that may or may not completely cover a woman’s face, and often have a flap drape that can be put over the head should the wearer want to uncover her face.


Image Courtesy: IstiZada


Now most schools and colleges are insisting on all students and teachers wearing protective face masks in keeping with Covid protocol. However, the Muslim girl students have been targeted, for nearly a month now for their Muslim identity in states like Karnataka with few newer instances also being reported from other Indian states. As much as the issue is escalating on campuses in Karnataka, the online villification of Hijab wearing Muslim girls and women has also escalated.   

Incidentally, Switzerland has become the latest European country to ban the Niqab, or the full-face cover where only the eyes are visible. Most of these bans on full face Niqabs are often reported in the international media as ‘burqa bans’. France was the first to ban wearing full face covers in public in 2010. According to news reports in the Economic Times and others, “France’s ban on face coverings was upheld by the European Court of Human Rights in 2014, rejecting arguments that outlawing full-face veils breached religious freedom”.

In 2011 Belgium banned full face coverings in public Bulgaria in 2016, Austria in 2017, and Denmark in 2018. In 2019 Netherlands banned the full-face veil in educational and public institutions, hospitals and public transport. The United Kingdom, Sweden and Germany have passed laws allowing schools or school districts – and in the case of the UK, hospitals also — to decide whether to ban the full-face veil, stated the news report.



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