Students: No burqa, no teaching

2010-07-29 13:12

Calcutta - Students at an Islamic university in eastern India have refused to allow a female lecturer to teach unless she wears an all-encompassing Muslim veil, or burqa, the teacher said on Thursday.

The student union has ordered all female students and all eight female lecturers at the small Calcutta campus of Aliah University to wear the veil.

Sirin Middya, who described herself as a devout Muslim, said she was appointed in March but has not been allowed to teach her classes since she refused to wear the garment, which covers the entire body and face. A mesh net covers the eyes.

Nearly a fourth of the population of West Bengal state, where the university is located, is Muslim, and burqas are a common sight in Islamic neighbourhoods.

But the garment is rare in much of India, a predominantly Hindu country, with a large Muslim minority.

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

University authorities were not immediately available for comment.

However, Vice-Chancellor Syed Shamshul Alam told the Indian Express newspaper that they have asked the teacher to shift to another campus of the university.

"This is a stray incident ... there is no dress code in our university," Alam said.