Muslim Education Society bans face veils in colleges run by it in Kerala, sparks row

The circular that was issued on April 17 will come into effect in all colleges under the society from the 2019-20 academic year.

Published: 02nd May 2019 03:33 PM  |   Last Updated: 03rd May 2019 05:05 AM   |  A+A-

veil, burqa

The directive has been issued to the heads of all institutions under the MES including arts and science, medical and engineering colleges. (File photo | EPS)

By Express News Service

KOZHIKODE: Kozhikode-based Muslim Educational Society (MES) has sparked a controversy after it issued a circular banning face veil in all its institutions. The circular, issued on April 17, will come into effect from the 2019-20 academic year.

The MES said the circular was passed on the basis of the Kerala High Court order giving school management the right to impose dress codes in their respective institutions. It stated girl students should not wear any garments that cover their faces, to classrooms. It also mentioned the order has been issued to ensure dress codes not acceptable to the society are not followed on the campuses either. The rule will also be applicable to the institutions’ faculty members and staff.

MES president Fazal Gafoor told Express: “Several unnecessary practices that were not a part of our society earlier have become quite common in the past couple of years. We are not running a campaign against face veil. However, when a student attends the college or when a teacher takes class, the face veil makes it difficulty to identify the person.”

Gafoor said the circular has been issued in view of the admission for the new batches.
“Students who want to wear a veil can join other institutions that permits it. In the MES institutions, students will no longer wear face veil with their uniform,” said Gafoor. A total of 72 schools and 35 colleges are functioning under the society.

The Muslim Educational Society (MES) decision to clamp down on use of full-face veil - the niqab - in educational institutions run by it has been widely welcomed by all sections of society here. Expectedly, the move drew flak from a miniscule minority.
According to women and female students, who are the major stakeholders, by imposing a blanket ban on use of niqab on its campuses, MES is ushering in a positive societal change.

Ladeeda Rayya, an MBBS third-year student of Kozhikode MCH, said,“Unlike headscarves - the hijab - worn by Muslim women, the full-face veil masks our identity. It’s a kind of self-imposed subjugation. While it’s indeed true that freedom to wear an outfit, including the style of dressing by and large is a matter of personal choice,  your identity should not remain concealed when you are in an educational institution,”she said.

Likewise, Nusrat Jahan, who is in the fray as an independent in the Kozhikode seat, said, “I support the  MES’ decision. Educational institutions have their own rules regarding discipline, college timings, fee structure and so on. Similarly they can impose rules pertaining to dress code.”
“If a student wants to cover her face, she can join some other institution that allows her to do that. Also, none of the Islamic texts mandates women should cover their face,” she said. 
Youngsters in Kozhikode are of the view the decision could spark a  healthy debate within the community. “It’s indeed great that an organisation like the MES has initiated  such a move. It can usher in many positive changes within the community,” said Rosline C U, a city resident. 

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