Islamabad: Pakistan's senior ministers waded into the ongoing hijab row in Karnataka, with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday saying that depriving Muslim girls of education is a grave violation of fundamental human rights.
The hijab controversy first erupted in January at a government PU College in Udupi, where six students who attended classes wearing headscarf in violation of the stipulated dress code were asked to leave the campus, has spread to different parts of the state with Hindu students too responding by turning up in saffron shawls. Such saffron-clad students are also being barred from entering classes.
"Depriving Muslim girls of an education is a grave violation of fundamental human rights. To deny anyone this fundamental right & terrorise them for wearing a hijab is absolutely oppressive. World must realise this is part of Indian state plan of ghettoisation of Muslims," Qureshi tweeted.
Information and broadcasting Minister Fawad Hussain said what is going on in India is terrifying. "Indian Society is declining with super speed under unstable leadership. Wearing Hijab is a personal choice just as any other dress citizens must be given free choice," he tweeted.
Reacting to the tweets of the Pakistani ministers, Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said in New Delhi on Wednesday that some people are giving "communal colour" to a decision on dress code and discipline of institutions as part of their "conspiracy to defame India's inclusive culture".
Naqvi also shot back saying Pakistan, which is a "jungle of crime and cruelty" for minorities, is preaching India on tolerance and secularism.
The reality is that the socio-educational-religious rights of minorities are being trampled brazenly in Pakistan, Naqvi told reporters in New Delhi.
Equal rights, dignity and prosperity of the minorities, including Muslims, is a part of India's commitment to tolerance, harmony and inclusivity, he asserted.
Meanwhile, Nobel Peace Prize winner and women's rights activist Malala Yousafzai termed 'horrifying' the ongoing hijab controversy in Karnataka and called on Indian leaders to "stop the marginalisation of Muslim women".
Taking to Twitter on Tuesday, Malala, who was 15 when she survived an attack by the Taliban in Pakistan for speaking up for the girls' education, wrote that objectification of women persisted, for wearing less or more.
"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," she said