A coalition of Muslim organizations across the country has urged President Muhammadu Buhari, alongside 36 State Governors to uphold the constitution’s provision and support hijab (Islamic headscarf) usage rights for Muslim women, particularly girls of school age in Nigeria.
The coalition consisting of 15 Muslim organizations also appealed to the National Assembly, State Houses of Assembly, the Judiciary, and all regulatory authorities to uphold the provisions of the constitution and also other relevant laws aimed at ending discrimination against hijab-wearing Muslims.
The convener of Hijab Rights Advocacy Group, Mutiat Orolu, said that it was discriminatory to deny any Muslim Woman or girl who so desires to wear the Hijab from doing so, adding that cases, where Muslim girls of school age were put in a delicate situation of choosing between their faith or education, must end.
Addressing a press conference yesterday on behalf of the coalition at Alausa Secretariat Mosque, Ikeja, in commemorating this year’s World Hijab Day (WHD), Orolu, who lamented continued cases of discrimination against Muslims schoolgirls for wearing a hijab, said that it was important for all regulatory authorities to sensitize their staff and agents on the rights of fellow citizens.
The sensitization on rights as guaranteed by the constitution and other regulations, Orolu said, would forestall further conflicts, engender mutual understanding and religious tolerance across the country.
“Compel all regulatory authorities and corporate bodies that are not registered religious organizations, to prevent their staff and agents from discriminating against Hijab-wearing Muslim women and refusing them services because of the Hijab and adding punitive measures in order to forestall this issue from recurring exponentially.
“For us all to stand up for the rights of the girl child and not ask her to choose between her faith and an Education. For Hijabophobia to be completely obliterated from our society as it affects the social, economic, and political development of our country,” she said.
Furthermore, she faulted claims from some critics calling for the prohibition of hijab on allegations of those using it to carry out criminal activities, particularly female Boko Haram suicide bombers.
According to her, when Babarigas and agbada, laptop bags and luggage, even fruits and foodstuff loaded on wheelbarrows were used, no one called for the banning of these items.
“We have also recorded several cases, where public services like NIMC registration, UTME exams, and even banks are located in facilities owned by the church, Muslim women in Hijab are denied entry, our daughters have had to take off their Hijabs in order to write UTME exams or even collect their ATM cards.
“Similarly, the narrative that if the hijab is allowed, the adherents of other faiths would also want to wear their religious garb does not and should not prevent Muslim Women from wearing their Hijabs, as the Constitution covers all religions and everyone has a guaranteed right to practice his religion. It is also important to emphasize, that it is compulsory for a Muslim woman to wear the Hijab any time she is to step outside her house or in the presence of those that are not close family members,” Orolu clarified.