Indian teacher barred from work for refusing burqa
Thu, Jul 29, 2010

KOLKATA, INDIA (AFP) - A female lecturer has been prevented from teaching at a Muslim university in eastern India by students demanding that she wear a full veil, a report said Thursday.

Aliah University in Kolkata is the first Muslim university in West Bengal state and has no formal dress code, but its student union has demanded that female teachers cover themselves in class.

Sirin Middya told the Indian Express she had refused to comply and had been prevented from teaching for three months.

"Most of the teachers do not like the diktat of the students to wear the burqa, but they have no option but to accept it," she told the newspaper. "This is the Talibanisation of educational premises and there is no one to come to our rescue."

Siamat Ali, secretary of West Bengal Madrasah Students' Union, was unrepentant.

"There are eight women teachers at the university. It was decided through consultation that the women will observe purdah (wearing the veil), and most teachers agreed," he said. "Only this lady has a problem."

The university has played down the row, calling it a "stray incident," while West Bengals minister for minority development has been informed and has yet to respond.

Indias most recent census, in 2001, found that 13 percent of the population - about 150 million people - were Muslim.

Indian Muslims face widespread discrimination and often live in the most densely packed, poorest parts of inner cities.

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