Warding off mosquitoes was touted as one of the reasons for female Muslim students in Padang, West Sumatra to continue wearing the hijab at school amid ongoing outrage about the discriminatory policy in the region.
Recently, a non-Muslim student at a public vocational high school complained that she was made to wear the hijab at school (including during online learning), adhering to a 15-year-old policy ostensibly imposed only on Muslim students.
The school and the province's education board apologized following a public outcry, with the Education Ministry warning educators in the region not to mix religious apparel into school uniform.
Despite the controversy, the city's education board says it's not removing the mandatory hijab rule for Muslim students anytime soon, but perhaps they could've offered a more sensible justification.
"At least by wearing the hijab, the students won't get bitten by mosquitoes. That is one of the benefits. There are actually many benefits for students to wear the hijab," Padang Education Board Head Habibul Fuadi told Kompas yesterday, without specifically listing actualization of faith as one of those benefits.
Habibul added that while non-Muslim students are not required to wear the hijab, they must still dress modestly at school.
They should keep an eye out for those mosquitoes, though.