The Indian Herald

The Indian Herald

April 1, 2009

SC judgment on student's beard shocks Muslims

The Apex Court's judgment rejecting a schoolboy's plea to be allowed to keep beard has shocked Muslims who feel that comments on Talibanisation were unwarranted.

Mohammad Salim, a student of Nirmala Convent school in Sironj town in Vidisha (Madhya Pradesh), had approached the court after the school expelled him for keeping a beard. The boy's counsel held that there was no clause prohibiting a beard earlier.

After the High Court dismissed the plea, Salim's lawyer filed a case in the Supreme Court. On Monday, the Supreme Court rejected the student's plea. Justice Markandeya Katju held that secularism can't be overstretched.

'We don't want to have Talibans in this country', remarked the Judge who asserted that he was a secularist but held that there should be a balance between rights and personal beliefs. Salim is the son of a vegetable vendor. Retired Judge BA Khan had pleaded on his behalf.

Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Ahmad Bukhari said that linking Talibanisation with beard is unfortunate as Talibans are a creation of America. "Had the government banned the Sikhs from keeping beard and carrying Kirpan weapon when the terrorism was at its peak in Punjab in the 80s", questioned Bukhari.

Regretting the comment, Maulana Mahmood Madani of Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind has said that it was justice Katju's personal observation and said that if beard symbolised Talibanisation, then the community is prepared to strive for our legal and religious rights.

The Imam of Fatehpuri Mosque Mufti Mukarram said that the Centre should have clarified its position on beard, as already there is a confusion on the issue. Perhaps, the court may have not given such a verdict had the government made its position clearer.

Meanwhile, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) leader Ram Vilas Paswan has said that sporting a beard is the fundamental right of Muslims and has urged the missionary school to give a concession to student and allow him to study without compromising his faith.

Urdu newspapers have expressed shock at the development. "The court could have dismissed the student's plea but adding the remarks which equate every bearded Muslim as Taliban was unnecessary", wrote a Delhi-based newspaper.

Some Muslim organisations are planning to file an appeal. The All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawart has expressed its deep concern over the issue. The opinion was bizarre and uncalled for, said Zafarul Islam Khan.

TIH Bureau

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