Bangladesh bans enforced Islamic dress code

Bangladeshi man Most Bangladeshis follow a moderate form of Islam

A Bangladesh court has ruled that people cannot be forced to wear skull caps, veils or other religious clothing in workplaces, schools and colleges.

The ruling came after reports that a college in the north had forced students to wear veils.

The high court also ruled that women cannot be prevented from taking part in sports or cultural activities.

Start Quote

Because any kind of religious attire is imposed, that has been declared illegal to some extent”

End Quote Mahbub Shafique Lawyer

The court said that wearing any form of religious clothing, for students and employees, should be a personal choice.

It has also asked the authorities to explain why the ban on girls taking part in sports and cultural activities should not be declared illegal.

In April this year, the court ordered schools and colleges not to force women to wear the burqa, a garment that covers the entire body except the eyes and hands.

Mahbub Shafique, one of the lawyers who filed the latest litigation, told the BBC how this ruling goes a step further.

"The difference between these two is that, this particular ruling today doesn't apply only on females it also applies to males as well.

"Because any kind of religious attire is imposed, that has been declared illegal to some extent."

The repeated interventions by the court show that these orders are likely to be ignored by most people living outside the capital Dhaka.

Though Bangladesh is a Muslim-majority nation, most people practise a moderate version of Islam.

In the long run, the country's politicians want the country to transform into a secular democracy rather than an Islamic republic.

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