New Delhi RSS-linked Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM) on Saturday appealed to the minority community to rise above orthodox thinking and embrace progressive ideas, saying education is more important for its progress than wearing hijab at educational institutions.

While Muslims in India have the highest rate of illiteracy at 43 per cent, the rate of unemployment in the community is also very high, the organisation said.

“Muslims should think about why they have the lowest literacy rate. The Muslims of India should adopt a progressive approach. They have to understand that they need a book, not a hijab. They should rise above orthodox thinking and focus on education and progress,” MRM national convenor and spokesperson Shahid Sayeed told PTI.

Only 2.75 per cent of the total Muslim population in India is graduate or above this level of education. Of them, the percentage of women is just 36.65 per cent. The dropout rate among Muslims is the highest and the dropout rate of girls in rural areas is higher than that of the boys, he said.

“We must think why do we have such a low percentage of graduates when the population of Muslims in the country is at least 20 crore,” he said.

Whether it’s the government sector or private sector, the representation of Muslims in employment is very less, he said.

“And this is not because of any bias against the minority community members. When a community has such a low percentage of graduates and higher drop of rates, it is obvious that its members will be left behind,” he added.

The MRM convenor said the scrapping of triple talaq and its criminalisation during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s regime has freed Muslim women from the pain of this age-old practice.

“This is the law of self-respect and dignity of Muslim women. Today there has been a lot of change in their condition. Since the law came into force, a large number of Muslim women have got relief. People are giving their family the right to live with dignity,” he said.

He claimed that Muslim girls, youth and women are progressive today but the “fanatics and so-called religious leaders” want them to remain in shackles of orthodoxy and bigotry.

“Religion is something to keep in your heart, not to show off. If a Muslim man or a woman is in the Indian Army, their dress code cannot include kurta pyjama or hijab. Similarly, every school or college has its own dress code and we must follow that,” he said.

Amid row over hijab, the MRM has rolled out a week-long campaign for communal harmony to mark the birthday of its founder and RSS national executive member Indresh Kumar on February 18.

“During the campaign, the MRM activists will take our founder and chief patron’s message of peace, harmony, brotherhood, and inclusion to the members of the community,” he said.

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