Pakistan women protest India’s ban on headscarves in schools

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Pakistan women protest

Pakistani women have rallied to denounce a ban imposed in a region in neighbouring India on the wearing of the traditional headscarf – or hijab – by Muslim girls in schools.

About a hundred women took to the streets in the southern port city of Karachi in a protest organised by a Pakistani Islamist political party, the Jamaat-e-Islami.

In the eastern city of Lahore, dozens of women torched an effigy of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and also demanded the lifting of the hijab ban.

Earlier on Thursday, a court in Karnataka, a state in southern India, told students not to wear any religious clothing until it delivers a verdict on petitions seeking to overturn the ban on hijabs.

The petitions were filed by students challenging the ban, which some schools implemented recently.

The issue grabbed headlines last month when a government-run school in Karnataka’s Udupi district barred students wearing hijabs from entering classrooms, triggering protests outside the school gate.

More schools in the state followed with similar bans, forcing the state’s top court to intervene.

In the Hindu-majority India, where Muslims make up about 14% of the country’s almost 1.4 billion people, the traditional Muslim hijabs are not banned or restricted in public places and are a common sight.

However, violence and hate speech against Muslims have increased under Modi’s governing Hindu nationalist party, which also governs Karnataka.

Pakistan and India have a history of bitter relations.

The two South Asian nuclear rivals have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir, which has been divided between them but claimed in its entirety by both.

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