Nigeria: World Hijab Day – Muslim Groups Kick Off Alleged Ongoing Harassment in Nigeria

Theme; “The hijab is our crown, not a crime,” activities were held across the world on Tuesday to mark this year’s World Hijab Day.

As part of activities to mark World Hijab Day 2022, a coalition of Muslim groups have kicked off what they called the continued harassment of Muslim women and girls who wear the hijab – a covering head worn in public by Muslim women.

The coalition therefore decided that rather than engaging those it labels as harassers in open confrontation, it would not hesitate to challenge them in the appropriate courts.

It was then that they asked the Lagos State government to issue a circular reminding school administrators of the decision of an appeal court, which allows Muslim students to wear the hijab in schools across the country. State.

These positions were taken on Tuesday during a joint press conference held at the Secretariat of the Central Mosque, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos.

Theme; “The hijab is our crown, not a crime,” activities were held around the world on Tuesday to mark this year’s World Hijab Day to reiterate what participants described as disapproval of the alleged continued harassment of women in schools and workplaces for the wearing of the hijab, and that the activities also aim to put an end to these practices.

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Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, participants and representatives of various Muslim groups called on President Muhammadu Buhari and other regulators to ensure that Muslim women wearing the hijab are no longer harassed and discriminated against.

In her presentation, a member of the trustees of the International Muslim Union, Sherifat Ajibade, called as both unconstitutional and criminal any form of discrimination against Muslim women for wearing the hijab.

“If the law guarantees us the right and we find someone violating that right, we will sue that individual or organization to prevent violence,” Ms Ajibade said.

Also speaking, Hijab Rights Advocacy Initiative Founder Mutiat Balogun said the coalition is an international movement against what she described as the dehumanization of Muslim women who may have suffered, are experiencing or are suffering any form of abuse. abuse “because they wear the hijab”. “

“This year’s theme couldn’t have come at a better time as Muslim women are harassed, abused and treated like criminals for wearing the hijab,” Ms Balogun said.

She said there is a global movement for women’s freedom and the freedom to make choices about their bodies and their dress, but such courtesy is not extended to Muslim women.

“The focus on the girl child and the need to protect her rights and not violate them unfortunately does not seem to extend to the Muslim girl child,” she said.

Examples of alleged abuse

Providing instances where Muslim women are subjected to hardship and denial of basic rights and services, Ms. Balogun alleged that the Nigeria Immigration Service office in Ibadan, the capital of Oyo State, still prevents Muslim women to obtain international passports, unless they remove their hijab or uncover their ears.

“Some schools in Lagos State have continued to deprive Muslim girls who wish to wear hijab in accordance with their faith from doing so. she declared.

Ms. Balogun insisted that the right of Muslim women to cover their heads is a religious right guaranteed by the constitution of Nigeria, and that it is an inalienable right.

What the Constitution of Nigeria Says

Ms. Balogun cited Article 38 (1) and (2) of the Constitution of Nigeria 1999, as amended, which; “(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, to change religion or belief and to liberty (alone or in community with others, in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

“(2) No person attending a place of education shall be required to receive religious instruction or to participate in or attend any religious ceremony or celebration if such instruction, ceremony or celebration relates to a religion other than his own or to a religion not approved by his parent or guardian.”

Circular

Meanwhile, the Chairperson of the Lagos State Regional Unit of the Muslim Student Society of Nigeria (MSSN), Basheerah Majekodunmi, during her speech at the event, called on Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and State Assembly Speaker Mudashiru Obasa to order the issuance of a circular in accordance with the Court of Appeal’s ruling allowing the use of hijab in public schools in the state.

She explained that many principals, teachers and administrators are causing a crisis in schools on the pretext that they have not received the circular previously issued under Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s administration.

She, however, advised school principals and teachers against the victimization and discrimination of Muslim students, describing it as a struggle against morality and public approval of indecency among young people.

She said: “Ignorance is no excuse before the law. Those teachers and principals who feign ignorance or turn a deaf ear to justice and morality have made it difficult and frightening for students to use their hijab as prescribed by their creator.

“It is high time for the Lagos State Government to issue another circular which will be widely circulated. We enjoy peace in Lagos State and we do not want a crisis. Some principals and teachers are acting illegally and d ‘in a way that could cause a scandal without prompt intervention.’

Ms Majekodunmi also acknowledged the state government’s efforts to provide quality education to students, but warned that continued victimization of students could sabotage these efforts.

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“The photo of Governor Sanwo-Olu sitting with a student wearing the hijab is a clear contrast to the injustice inflicted on some students who also choose to wear the hijab in other schools,” she added.

She lamented the case of two Muslim female students from Igboye, Igboye, Epe Community High School, who she said were made to stand outside the classroom in the sun while their classmates were writing an exam, stating that MSSN Lagos will continue to take such cases. until the verdict of the Supreme Court.

Ms. Majekodunmi therefore advised students to aspire to be great no matter the challenges and to speak up when experiencing any form of aggression or victimization.

Some of the organizations that took part in the press conference include Nasrul-lahi-li Fathi Society of Nigeria (NASFAT), Al Muminaat Organisation, Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN Lagos), Muslim Public Affairs Center (MPAC), Guild of Muslim Professionals (GMP), Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), among others.

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