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University Diaries follows with interest the now-global university controversy involving burqas and guns and other things students might wear and carry in classrooms.

Right now, there’s serious trouble in Mangalore. The men there are so “lecherous,” explains a woman thrown out of class when she insisted on wearing the burqa, that it’s only wise to wrap yourself in a full-body blanket in what her interviewer notes is a city with “stifling heat.”

No question but that a damp sheet with a vitamin deficiency is a turn-off, so UD won’t quibble there. The question — since this behavior is either a pathology (“[I]t’s hard to explain why someone might willingly cloak themselves in a black covering in an area dominated by hot deserts and put themselves at high risk for a variety of serious illnesses caused by vitamin D deficiency.”) or a crime against women — is whether Mangalore’s universities are within their rights to forbid it. So far they are maintaining their policy, but there’s growing civil unrest about it. Protesters insist that women must continue to be made so off-putting that the panting men of Mangalore will decide to keep their wicks dry.

And then there’s the kirpan problem. Sikhs will wear this pretty big curved sword to class, and if their professors are wary, too bad for them.

UD wonders: Will the same students and professors militating against guns on campus in America also be willing to militate against the sword?

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2 Responses to “Sikhs with Swords”

  1. Arudra Burra Says:

    Hi UD,

    The sub-text of all this sounds more like political protest and an assertion of religious identity (in an area where the Hindu right wing has been on the ascendant recently), than anything else. The sexual harassment angle is one of the few neutral modes in which this kind of thing can be presented.


  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    I take your point, Arudra, and it’s true that in the coverage I’ve read the religious tension angle is also always mentioned. In fact, I think the latest development is that the local government has said that women can wear the burqa in class, and the government’s motive is clearly a reduction in political/religious tensions.

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