Last week, a college in Mangalore in India banned a student wearing a burqa from attending class. The principal told local media the college had a policy of not allowing symbols of religion.
The media did not say if there were students on campus with a ‘bindi’ (dot) on their foreheads or crucifixes around their necks or turbans on their heads, other symbols of religion one commonly sees in India, besides the ubiquitous “Om” scarves and t-shirts.
Mangalore, a cosmopolitan city, is no stranger to controversy; it was recently in the news for attacks on bars and women by a fundamentalist Hindu outfit that declared they were against Indian culture.
Nor is the controversy over headscarves and burqas limited to India. UK’s Jack Straw sparked a heated debate when he asked Muslim women in his constituency to remove their veils to promote better relations between people.
Turkey last year lifted a ban on women wearing headscarves at universities, ruling it violated the country’s secular constitution.