The Muslim Educational Society in Kerala has issued a circular banning niqab (veil covering the face) in all its educational institutions.The MES is one of the largest minority educational organisations with over 100 institutions to its name. In the circular released by the organisation, president of the institution PA Fazal Gafoor says, “MES aims at the social and cultural progress of the Muslim community insists that the students, even while maintaining high standards in curricular and extra-curricular activities, follow certain decorum in the dress code too. We should discourage all undesirable practices on the campuses.”Tired of reading? Listen to the full story here:The circular added:“In this context, we cannot allow any clothing that is not acceptable in the general society, may it be in the name of modernisation or religion. Hence, to avoid controversy, from the academic year 2019-20, it is to be ensured that female students will not come to class wearing clothing that covers the face.”This move comes amidst the niqab ban controversy in Sri Lanka, a week after Islamist terrorists attacked a church and killed 253 people.But students think it is a matter of choice.“I do not wear a niqab but I oppose the move. MES has always boasted of being secular. Then this is not the right thing to do. I think the management should stay out of personal and religious freedom.”Shaima (name changed), a last year student at MES Medical College in Malappuram Many Muslim organisations have also rejected the circular. Fathima Thaliya, National Vice President of Muslim Students Federation says this is a political move, given the current discourse against Muslims.Kerala Won’t Buy BJP’s ‘Divide & Rule’ Plan With Fahadh, Mammootty“This is about physical autonomy. MES had earlier raised the issue of banning hijab and full sleeve clothing in the colleges. Students had requested to change this rule. The High Court had refused to intervene in the school’s refusal of the request and an appeal is pending. At a time like this, such a circular generates fear. This is religious profiling and the fact that it comes from a minority institution is further problematic.”Fathima Thaliya, National Vice President of Muslim Students FederationShalima Shaheem, a 23-year-old student at MES Dental College, Malappuram also said it is matter of choice, but added, “We, as dental students wear a face mask most of the time. Pairing it with a face veil is just adding to discomfort. So, in my opinion, it is better not to wear it as it doesn’t serve any purpose.”A 2013 MBBS batch student from MES Medical College, Zayesha (name changed), says she hasn’t spotted any niqab-wearing student in her college. “I haven’t seen any in our college. Also, in professional colleges, where we go on patient rounds, I don’t think niqab is a good idea. It disrupts the interaction between the doctor and a patient. As long as hijab isn’t banned, I am okay,” she said.Amidst All the Niqab Chatter, Can We Leave Khatija Rahman Alone? Gafoor has openly opposed the niqab in the past too. In 2014, he had commented that the niqab was un-Islamic and a western import.He had also remarked that its prolonged use blocks sunlight, resulting in Vitamin D deficiency in many Muslim women. We'll get through this! Meanwhile, here's all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated. The Quint is now available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, Click here to join.