June 2016 News

DPS, Srinagar Bans Abaya; State Govt Says, 'we Are Not France'

19 June 2016

Srinagar: Delhi Public School (DPS), Srinagar faced a lot of criticism after it reportedly barred a Muslim teacher from wearing 'Abaya', a loose over-garment in school. The Jammu and Kashmir government reacted sharply to this ban and termed it a 'serious issue'. 'We are not France,' said Education Minister Naeem Akhtar referring to the ban. Soon after the incident, the teacher resigned while students boycotted classes and sought an apology from the school management. They also demanded that the teacher, who taught biology, be recalled, reported The Indian Express. 'I was not given any contract or explained any conditions when I joined. The principal was absent for two months. After she returned, she sent a message that I should not wear abaya. She categorically told me that Islamic dress is not allowed on the school premises,' the report quoted the teacher as saying. DPS Principal Kusum Warikoo allegedly asked the teacher to choose between her job and the dress code. She further responded to the students' protest by saying that the school was merely 'following rules' and the school law says 'no female teacher can wear abaya inside the campus during working hours'. This issue was raised in the state assembly by MLA Engineer Abdul Rashid who called such a ban 'in a Muslim state' condemnable, according to Hindustan Times. Akhtar, who is also the spokesperson of the Jammu and Kashmir government, replied that the concern will be raised with the school authorities. 'It is a private school and we will get into the truth of the issue. We live in a country with multi-cultural and multi-religious setup. We have a secular fabric. No force on any such issue will be accepted; we are not France where the government or some institute decides what dress people should wear,' Hindustan Times quoted him as saying. Separatist Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani demanded an unconditional apology from the school. 'Jammu and Kashmir is a Muslim- majority State and objecting to the Islamic dress code could have very serious consequences,' said Geelani. He also said that the school should not do the mistake of ignoring the sensitivity of the issue. Mutahida Majlis Ulema (MMU) said that 'un-Islamic and anti-Muslim measures would not be tolerated.' Akhtar was referring to the law in France banning school staff from wearing garments displaying a religious allegiance. The country also has a national ban on wearing veils that cover your face in public.