Following controversy over allowing Ganesh idols at schools to mark Ganesh Chaturthi, the Karnataka Waqf board demanded the education department to allow Muslim students to also offer namaz at separate rooms in the schools and said Hindu students should also embrace Muslim traditions.

Responding to education minister B C Nagesh’s announcement idols Waqf board president Shafi Sahadi said, “We welcome the government’s move to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi at schools but at the same time, it would be ideal if the education department allows students to offer namaz in the noon and the compulsory namaz at mosques every Friday. To maintain equality, it is important that Muslim students know about Hindu traditions and Hindu students know Islamic traditions.”

Sahadi added, “The phrase Allahu Akbar is always linked with terrorism. It is important that students learn the real meaning of the phrase so that it clears misconceptions.”

Nagesh’s statement on Ganesh Chaturthi also drew criticism from Campus Front of India, the students’ wing of People’s Front of India, which termed the statement “hypocritical” given the government’s opposition to girls’ wearing the hijab in classrooms.

Meanwhile, a Bengaluru-based Islamic scholar, Umar Shareef, said, “I am not in support of demanding a separate space for prayers. This would mean an unwarranted escalation of conflict in education institutions. Students can offer prayers even at their homes. However, when it comes to hijabs, we can only request the government to allow the girls to wear the hijabs in schools and colleges as per Islamic traditions.”

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