Today, Thursday March 8, is commemorated as International Women’s Day (IWD). IWD action coordinator Jumisih said that the women’s should not be banned from wearing an Islamic veil on campus.
“Wearing a niqab or not, a jilbab (hijab) or not, that’s a freedom of expression that everyone has a right to”, said Jumisih during a break in an IWD rally in front of the House of Representatives (DPR) in Jakarta on Thursday March 8.
According to Jumisih, choosing to wear a cadar (niqab) is an individual right which cannot be prohibited because it is a human right. “Don’t prohibit or ban it because everyone has the right [to wear what they want]”, said the Women’s Workers Corner (Pokja Buruh Perempuan) activist.
Jumisih therefore rejects the Yogyakarta Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University’s (UIN) recent policy of banning the cadar on campus.
“It curbs freedom. Regardless of a person’s ethnic, religious, racial or group background they cannot be ordered not to or prohibited from wearing a cadar because it’s an individual decision”, she said.
A polemic about wearing the niqab on campus erupted after the UIN issued an instruction on March 5 banning its students from wearing the niqab. According to the university, the decision was taken in order to prevent the spread of anti-Pancasila [the state ideology] Islamic teachings.
Based upon an earlier decision by the university, students wearing a niqab were obliged to register themselves for counseling before February 28.
UIN Rector Yudian Wahyudi said that there are around 42 students at UIN who will be given counseling by campus authorities. Wahyudi believes that students wearing a niqab follow a form of Islam that conflicts with Pancasila, the 1945 Constitution and moderate Islam in Indonesia.
“We will form a counseling team made up of lecturers from various disciplines, psychology, Islamic law and politics. Students who wear a niqab will be provided with an understanding that what they follow is dangerous and a threat”, Wahyudi told Tirto on Monday.
If after nine counseling session the students still do not wish to abandon the ideology they follow, they will be expelled from campus.
A niqab, called a cadar in Indonesian, is a full Islamic veil which conceals the face but leaves the eyes exposed. A jilbab, Indonesian for hijab, is a shorter length veil more commonly worn by Indonesian women which covers the hair but leaves the face exposed.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was Hari Perempuan Internasional: Larangan Bercadar Melanggar Kebebasan.]