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Cafe Denies Entry to Hijab-Wearing Woman in New Delhi, Sparks Outrage

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Wearing a Hijab on academic premises has been a political topic for the last two years, the wave started in Karnataka in 2021 and reached Rajasthan in 2024. Several incidents have been reported in the country where Hijabi women faced discrimination on the grounds of their outfits.

In late 2021, a controversy erupted in Karnataka when six Muslim female students at a college in Udupi were barred from attending classes for wearing hijabs. This issue led to significant protests and a governmental directive in February 2022 emphasizing adherence to school uniforms. The Karnataka High Court ruled in March 2022 that wearing a hijab is not a fundamental religious practice, upholding that school uniforms promote equality and unity among students.

Similarly, in Rajasthan in January 2024, the comment of a state legislator about Muslim students wearing hijab at a school event led to protests. The state’s education minister responded by implementing a dress code for all government schools to foster a uniform appearance, which sparked further debate about religious freedom.

Apart from the academic institutions, Hijabi women have started to face hatred in public spaces as well.

Recently, Nashra*(26), a resident of New Delhi’s Okhla suffered such an instance, wherein a cafe named Marbia in New Friends Colony stopped her from entering the premises because she was wearing a Hijab.

“Around 4 pm, me and my two friends were visiting Marbia, the moment we entered, the receptionist there first asked if we had a reservation and then when we said no, she prohibited me and outright said that I can’t enter because I am wearing Burkha. I was wearing a Hijab. We left the place and went somewhere else. But we were confused as to whether the rule exists and called up the café and talked to one of the representatives who at first confirmed that the rule exists but then somehow couldn’t properly give a reason for what the receptionist said”, says Nashra.

Nashra further added as far as she’s aware no such policies exist in cafes. The fact that all other religious symbols are easily accepted in public spaces but not a Hijab laden woman surprised her.

“The way the situation of our country is I knew that I might someday face discrimination in the metro but this restaurant experience was not much of a shock but I felt humiliated.”

The managing director of the café issued a public apology on Marbia’s Instagram page and told Khan that most of the staff was on leave due to Eid whereas the two employees at the restaurant who misbehaved are untrained and presented their bias through their own understanding. Upon being asked if any action would be taken against them, the director said “You will not see their faces”

The Observer Post tried to contact the managing director of Marbia, but there was no response.

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