- Posted September 21, 2013 by
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Leading Bangladesh University accused of disrespecting religious sentiment in enforcing its dress code
Brac University, one of the leading private universities of Bangladesh, created a huge controversy recently when they decided to debar a student for flouting their ‘dress code.’
“Hafsa along with others were warned to abide by the university ‘dress code’ earlier this year. Recently, during the semester finals these students were made to come out of class all of a sudden to check if they were the same students appearing the exam,” says a student of ECE at Brac University requesting anonymity.
Brac University students confirmed that, in the next semester, the students were given another warning to stop wearing face veils (in eg., niqab) on the campus premises.
Hafsa, a student of English department, told the authority that if the university appointed female security guards she would comply. But she was told that it’s not possible to appoint security guards only for a handful of students.
Later, more students gathered together and planned a protest against the policy. As part of the plan, they wrote an application to the registrar asking to change the policy.
However, the registrar Ishfaq Elahi Chowdhury said that they needed to prove if most students agreed to the change.
Accepting the registrar’s suggestion, the initiators of the campaign collected almost 600 signatures from the students within two days.
When the students submitted the signatures they didn’t get any positive response from the authority. After trying several times, they failed to get an appointment with the VC of the university Professor Ainun Nishat.
Meanwhile, Hafsa was called to the registrar’s office with her parents. Her brother came to meet the registrar in his office where he told him, “your sister has psychological issues.”
Hafsa was then told that the authority is considering her case for the semester. However, it’s not possible to say what the decision would be in the future.
“Hearing this from the authority, we were convinced that the issue will be resolved and thus our protest almost stopped,” says a student under the condition of anonymity.
The main organizer of the protest was called in to the registrar’s office with his guardians to show cause. However, since he had a ‘very high’ CGPA he was spared.
In the running semester, it came as a shock when their IDs were blocked without prior notice.
Following the incident, there was a huge uproar in the social media websites protesting this niqab ‘ban.’
A facebook page titled ‘Anti-Niqab protocol by Brac University’ was created by the protesters. The page has arranged an event which plans to protest in front of Brac building today at around 4:15pm.
Reacting to the ban, eminent American Islamic lecturer and thinker Sheikh Yasir Qadhi had commented on the page, “It is extremely distressing to see such a ban coming from a Muslim land, upon a majority-Muslim student body. The ban that the Western lands regularly threaten or implement is expected: it is not their culture or religion. But to see a Muslim land be so opposed to an Islamic practice, and deprive women the right to dress modestly if they choose to do so, is very disheartening.”
Facebook users have joined the event in huge numbers.
There have been strong reactions from major supporters present on both sides.
Some said the University should be given a chance to justify their stance while others said in a majority-Muslim student body the policy is completely unacceptable.
“Improve your academics that make you leading, not imposing dress codes,” says Raiiq Ridwan, a Bangladeshi activist living in the UK.
On an impulse, other activists hurled strong comments criticizing Brac University in the blogosphere.