A case of teachers forcing a girl student to wear a hijab at a state-run school in Muslim-majority Indonesia has come to light, reports news outlet ucanews.com.
The 16-year-old Muslim girl student at a senior high school in Banguntapan, Bantul district, Yogyakarta special region claimed to be intimidated by teachers into wearing a hijab – a headscarf that fundamentalists say should be worn by Muslim women to cover their hair in order to ‘maintain modesty and privacy’ from unrelated males either in public or at home.
As a result, the 16-year-old student was reported to have confined herself for an hour in a school toilet. The school later denied any coercion, but the traumatized girl reportedly moved to another school.
This incident has renewed activists’ concerns about this coercive practice in Indonesia, which also targets religious minorities. Predictably, Western NGOs are criticizing this issue as they sense an opportunity to posit Christianity as a ‘liberal’ alternative for Indonesian Muslims.
New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), a controversial NGO which often acts in concert with US mainstream media to push US geopolitical agendas, said cases of forced wearing of the hijab will continue because there are many regulations across Indonesian provinces, districts, cities that mandate the hijab in some way or the other.
“Because there is a system of coercion mixed with reasons for religious beliefs, there is a practice of supervising each other, becoming a kind of police force for others who don’t obey it,” Andreas Harsono, an Indonesian researcher for HRW, said.
HRW claims its research found that such regulations were introduced in 2001 in a number of Muslim-majority provinces such as West Java, Aceh and West Sumatra. They had caused widespread bullying of girls and women, including non-Muslims, to force them to wear the hijab.
Harsono said they found coercion against non-Muslims in 24 provinces, to varying degrees. He went on to name Christianity, Buddhism, Confucianism, and ‘other religions’ as the affected minority, pointedly refusing to name Hindu Dharma which at 1.74% constitutes a larger share of Indonesia’s population than either Buddhism (0.77%) or Confucianism (0.03%). Incidentally, the region of Yogyakarta where this incident took place derives its name from Ayodhya, birthplace of Sri Ram.
Is even acknowledging the existence of an ‘idol worshipping/pagan’ religion like Hindu Dharma, as a minority religion struggling for equal rights, anathema for HRW staffers? Is it their mandate to project Hinduism only as an ‘oppressive, casteist’ religion?
Harsono added that victims who did not comply with the hijab mandate were forced to leave school or withdrew under pressure, while some female civil servants, including teachers, doctors, school principals and university lecturers, lost their jobs or felt compelled to resign.
An attempt in 2021 by the Indonesian government to amend regulations and allow schoolgirls to choose whether to wear the hijab was struck down by the Supreme Court, which ruled that the amendment contravened existing laws on the jurisdiction of local governments, ‘child protection’ and the national education system.
Halili Hasan, a researcher from the Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, said forcing the wearing of the hijab, including in schools “is contrary to the diversity of Indonesia, which we must uphold, maintain and strengthen.”
UCA News – hijab in schools bad in Indonesia, good in Bharat?
Well-funded Christian news outlets like UCANews (Union of Catholic Asian News) are masters of subtle propaganda to fulfill the ‘Great Commission’ i.e. the worldwide evangelism of Christianity to create “God’s Kingdom on Earth”.
Hijab is not a matter of choice for most Muslim women. Even privileged sections of Muslim society often don’t have the luxury of rejecting it once it becomes the norm. Women in Iran and other Muslim societies are fighting to overturn the hijab mandate that is brutally enforced by religious police. But in Bharat, liberals claim that asking all girl students to follow a uniform dress code in schools is ‘oppression’! The recent demand to allow hijab in Karnataka schools and junior colleges, a movement instigated by the radical quasi-terror outfit PFI’s student wing, became an international story.
Outlets like UCANews also did their part in painting it as a ‘denial of Muslim rights’ and churning out propaganda pieces containing usual tropes like “Modi’s authoritarian regime”, “BJP’s communal polarization” and quotes from discredited Hinduphobic writer-activist Arundhati Roy.
The hypocritical attitude of Western governments, NGOs and Christian organizations on the hijab issue is also a good lesson on the hollowness of the so-called “international rules-based order” which these same groups claim to uphold.