Notice over dress code draws flak from all quarters
Explanation sought from IPH director
Staff ReporterÂ :
The Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) sought an explanation from the IPH director Dr Muhammad Abdur Rahim for his notice over dress code that has triggered strong criticism from all quarters.
Dr Rahim in a circular issued on Wednesday asked male employees of IPH (Institute of Public Health) to wear clothes above the ankle and women below the ankle with hijab.
"It is mandatory to keep mobile phones on silent mode or switch them off [for all] and wear clothes -- above the ankle for men and below the ankle along with hijab for women staffers; and the instruction is to adhere to the [Islamic] dress code," the notice read.
A copy of the notice rapidly circulated on social media sites and thereby it went 'viral.'
Social media users came up with sharp reaction by posting various comments on the notice.Â Â Â
Meanwhile, hours after the issuance of the circular, the DGHS sought an explanation from the IPH director.
In a handout issued in the afternoon, the health directorate asked the director to explain in three days how he issued the circular, on the basis of which regulation, and with which authority's approval.
Sharmin Akhter Jahan, the deputy secretary at the Health Services Division, issued the handout notice giving Rahim three working days to clear his position.
The notice said Health Minister Zahid Maleque has ordered the health and family welfare secretaries, and the director general of health services to take "urgent" steps.
The health ministry will update on the issue next Sunday.
In response to the question whether he has the authority to issue such a notice in the government service rules, Dr. Rahim said, "In the notice he has instructed the IPH employees to abide by the religious precepts. There is no sin on him if he wears clothes above the ankle and it is sinful if he wears clothes under ankle (Taknu). Similarly, women have been asked to wear clothes below the ankle along with hijab to adhere to the Islamic dress code."
Defending himself, he raised the question,Â 'Are not we in a disaster today ? Many of your journalists have died of coronavirus. Police and doctors have died of Covid-19. Members of all other professions have also been infected by the virus. But how many Imams and Muyazzin and how many Hindu Brahmas have died of coronavirus?
Asked if he could issue the notification as a director of the organization or if it was a government directive, he said, "I have given instructions for my office. It is a Muslim country. If my office is decorated like this, I would like it."
Besides, State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain has said no official can issue such circular.
"Bangladesh is a secular country. People of different religions work in offices. Therefore, such circular on dress code cannot be issued," he told media on Thursday.
The junior minister also said in Bangladesh there is no such official dress code as mentioned in the notice.
"I will look into the matter after going through it and will take necessary measures."
Meanwhile, Md Abdur Rahim has withdrawn his own order that made following the Islamic dress code mandatory for its Muslim staff members.
He apologised for issuing the order "inadvertently" and promised "not to repeat such mistake" in a statement on Thursday evening amid a debate over the issue on social media.
Â Hours earlier, the Health Services Division asked him to explain which rules he had followed and which authority had permitted him to issue the circular.