Nigerian Muslim women, under the aegis of Al-Mu’minaat (an assemblage of Muslim women in Nigeria), on Wednesday called for a specific law banning all discrimination against their religious head-covering scarf (hijab). They also regretted the intolerance and persecution of hijabites, which they said was on the rise in the country.
The Al-Mu’minaat, the umbrella body further wants appropriate legislation that will specifically criminalise discrimination, harassment, molestation and or persecution of Muslim girls and ladies in hijab.
This position of the Muslim women was made known by the President of the group, Nimatullah AbdulQuadri, at a press conference in Lagos ahead of Thursday February 1 commemoration of the annual World Hijab Day.
“Our 2018 theme is ‘My Hijab, My Right’. This theme seeks to remind the (Nigerian) government, as well as our fellow citizens of our religious rights as regards constitutional provisions, especially at this time that the hijab is being assaulted and when modesty of covering up is being ridiculed or associated with oppression and backwardness,” the President submitted.
The World Hijab Day, an annual event founded by social activist Nazma Khan in 2013, takes place on February 1 of every year in over 140 countries to draw attention of the world to the challenges that the Muslim women face such as discrimination and harassment due to the proper observance of their faith.
According to Ms Abdul-Quadri, this year’s event comes amid rising discriminations against Nigerian Muslim women and girls wearing headscarves, citing recent controversies around the religious wear involving a female Law graduand, who was denied a call to the bar because of her head gear.
The lady in question, Firdaus Amasa was, last October barred from the call to bar event in the capital city Abuja because she insisted on wearing her headscarf, triggering a fresh debate on the issue and prompting the Nigerian parliamentarians to schedule a public hearing for February 6 to resolve the crisis.
Recall that, in 2016, the Appeal Court held that wearing the headscarf to anywhere is within the constitutional right of the Muslim woman or girl, outlawing a government circular which had restricted its use in public schools across Lagos state. The government has appealed the ruling at the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
“Fidaus Amasa’s case has actually made it abundantly clear that the Nigerian nation is not serious about the Girl-child education and giving equal opportunity to all citizens. It is telling us that education is not meant for those who chose to be Muslims and express their being so,” the woman leader lamented.
“This isn’t a hidden agenda but an open one for those who want to see, or else, why would a Muslim lady in the Hijab who has gone through the rigours of the university, the Nigerian law school and has excelled in character and knowledge be denied her rights to be called to bar? Incidences of discriminations , denials, persecutions, profiling, harassments abound even in public institutions. Institutions powered by our taxes! These must stop forthwith,” she asserted.