July 30, 2010

University lecturer told she must wear veil


by Benjamin Graham

A university lecturer in India has been told she must wear the full-face veil or students will boycott her lectures.

The student union at the Calcutta campus of Aliah University told Sirin Middya she will not be allowed to teach unless she wears the burqa.

Middya describes herself as a devout Muslim, but refuses to wear the garment, which covers the entire body and face.

“The students have threatened us and have put up banners saying those who oppose the burqa rule can go back home,” she said.

“I don’t have a problem wearing the burqa, but when I wear it, it will be of my own free will.”

Because she has been unable to teach, Middya has been helping out at the library of a separate suburban campus for the past three months.

The university has played down the argument, calling it a “stray incident”.

Muslims make up nearly a quarter of the population in West Bengal, the state where the university is located.

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