Kerala Muslim educational body bans face veils in its institutes

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Women at the funeral procession of a militant in South Kashmir in 2018. Photograph by Vikar Syed for The Kashmir Walla
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The Muslim Educational Society (MES) has issued a circular preventing female students from wearing religious veils at its educational institutions in India, News Minute reported.

According to reports the Kozhikode-based MES, which was founded in 1964, runs 35 colleges and 72 schools and is one of the largest educational organisations in India, with one lakh students in their system.

According to the circular, issued by MES President PA Fazal Gafoor, students in institutions run by the MES will not be able to wear religious veils that cover their faces. “Institution heads and officer-bearers of the local management of the institutions should be vigilant,” it states.

The circular, which was issued on April 17, surfaced this week and has since been widely reported in local and national media.

Quoting the High Court order, the MES circular says, “According to the High Court order, female students should not wear garments that cover their face. This should be implemented without giving way to controversy,” the circular states. The direction in the circular must be implemented beginning in the 2019-20 academic year. It also directs institutions to incorporate the new rule in the academic calendar.

MES was founded by Fazal Gafoor’s father, PK Abdul Gafoor. It has institutions throughout Kerala, neighbouring states and in the Middle East.

“The MES has no right to interefere in relgious practices. Unlike Samastha, they’re not an organisation entitled to make those kinds of statements,” according to President Sayyid Muhammad Jifri Muthukkoya Thangal.

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