A group of muslim students at a college in the southern Indian state of Karnataka were stopped from attending classes for weeks after the principal refused to allow them to wear headscarves in the classroom.

“When we arrived at the door of the classroom, the teacher said we cannot enter with the hijab,” one of the students told Al Jazeera

“She asked us to remove it.”


The college is a government-run women’s college in Udupi district of India’s Karnataka state in the south. The students were forced to sit outside the classroom because the college administration alleges they are “defying the rules” since hijab is not part of the uniform.

The girls told Al Jazeera the hijab is “part of their faith” and wearing it is “their right guaranteed under the law”.

 The girls have been marked as absent since December 31 despite visiting the college daily.

“We are not going to budge, no way,” Aliya Assadi, who is a part of the group, told Al Jazeera.

A photo has gone viral on social media of the students clad in hijab and college dresses sitting on the steps outside their classroom.

“It is because of this photo that our issue got highlighted in the media,” said Assadi.

Their protest has riled up the college administration which, according to the group, forced them to write a letter accepting they missed the classes by staying home on their own.

“We tried to refuse but the principal and the teachers threatened us that they would ruin our careers,” Muskan Zainab, another student, told Al Jazeera.