Groups decry molestation of Muslim girls in hijab
• Declare Day of solidarity for female students
Concerned Muslim groups such as the Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria (MULAN), the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), the Muslim Public Affairs Center (MPAC) and the University of Ibadan Muslim Community (UIMC) have decried the alleged harassment, intimidation and oppressive acts by members of staff of the International School Ibadan (ISI) against innocent Muslims students of the school.
Officials of ISI had on Wednesday July 3rd and Thursday July 4th 2019 forced female Muslim students in hijab (Muslims headscarf) to remove them about 100 meters from the school’s gate. A video showcasing this incident has since gone viral on social media.
The groups in a separate statements made available to The Guardian described the incident as the height of religious apartheid, a show of shame and the mother of all apartheid.
The President of MULAN, Prof. Funminiyi Raheem Adeleke said the group has written to the vice chancellor of the University of Ibadan to schedule an emergency meeting on the issue. He said MULAN has resolved to ensure that rights of Muslims are protected. They have also vowed to challenge the action of the university and its agents in a court of law, if negotiation fails.
The UIMC Publicity Secretary, Muftau Lamidi said: “Hijab is an inalienable right of our Muslim sisters and we will do and are doing everything possible to ensure this becomes reality in ISI.”He said the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) has informally apologised for the unruly behaviour of the security.
“The UIMC leaders drew the attention of the DVCs (Academic first, then Admin) to the tyrannical rule of ISI and the unruly behaviour of the UI security. The leaders demanded that the principal be reprimanded and warned seriously to desist from the path she’s following. The DVC (Academic) later informally apologised for the unruly behaviour of the security. He said they were invited because the child’s parent threatened the school. The intervention of the UIMC leaders has led to the withdrawal of the security and restoration of normalcy in the school.”
Meanwhile, MURIC has declared today Friday, July12th, 2019 as a Day of Solidarity with female Muslim girls who are facing persecution in South West Nigeria for wearing hijab.Director, MURIC, Ishaq Akintola, said: “Muslims all over Nigeria are to stage a one-hour solidarity rally in a peaceful manner outside their mosques carrying placards with messages of sympathy with the girls immediately after the Jumu‘ah service. Decorum should be observed during the rallies. Nobody should use provocative or abusive language and nobody should block the smooth flow of traffic or molest passers-by. Neither should participants go beyond the front of their mosques.
“We appeal to all Muslims to wear white dresses on that day as a manifestation of peaceful intention and in order to display uniformity in solidarity,” he said. Akintola had earlier said: “The action of officials of ISI is a flagrant violation of Section 38 (i) & (ii) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which stipulates that every Nigerian citizen has the right to ‘practice and manifest’ his or her faith.
“In addition, by causing open embarrassment to the parents and the victims, the school has openly contravened the right to the dignity of the human person as entrenched in Section 34 (b) & (c) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended (2011).”
He added that, “This stereotyping of female Muslim students at ISI constitutes an assault on the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Article 4, Clause 1 & 2 which says, ‘Human beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person.”“ISI school’s show of shame also exposes the school’s lack of respect for the religious feelings of those female Muslim students, their parents and the sensitivities of Nigerian Muslims in general.” it stated.
It therefore infringed upon Article 9 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights & Fundamental Freedoms which contains a call to have ‘respect for the religious feelings of believers…’.“That is not all. Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Right, (ICCPR) guarantees the right to freedom of religion unconditionally. The UN HRC General Comment No. 22 on article 18 of ICCPR reveals a strong support for religious freedom, particularly the use of hijab.”
Akintola therefore said: “All the above international legal instruments empower us to externalize the struggle if the authorities fail to act. MURIC will have no option than to drag the Nigerian government, the National Assembly, authorities of the University of Ibadan, its Council and Mrs. Phebean Olowe as well as the governments of all South Western states that allow the persecution of female Muslim students using hijab or disallows the latter from using hijab to the United Nations for actively persecuting and profiling the girl-child in Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, MPAC said there is nowhere in the school’s regulations where the use of the Hijab on the school uniform is prohibited, challenging the ISI to quote the school regulations that prohibit the Hijab.It stated: “Our educational Institutions are there to educate not to misinform, to guide not to misguide, to teach tolerance and inclusion, not discrimination and exclusion. Without a doubt, this case smacks of anti-Muslim sentiments and the provocative remarks and public comments of the protagonists of the push to see Muslim girls in hijab excluded have been based not on sound intellectual arguments but on classical Islamophobia.
“We implore the relevant authorities to respect the rule of law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that permits every citizen regardless of his or her age to practice his or her religion without prejudice, intimidation or discrimination.“MPAC has zero tolerance for any and all acts of discrimination or hostility against the hijab in our schools and we shall never relent in our fight against attacks on hijab by anyone,” it stated.