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MURIC alleges victimisation of Southwest Muslims


crescents mosqueMUSLIM Rights Concern (MURIC) has alleged that Muslims in the Southwest are denied their civil and religious rights, which include the rights to wear hijabs.Director, MURIC, Prof Ishaq Akintola, in a statement said: “Sequel to the hijab brouhaha, which broke out recently in the State of Osun and whose dust is yet to settle, the Lagos headquarters of the MURIC has been inundated with complaints from concerned Muslims in Yorubaland.

“It is becoming clear that the areas of misunderstanding go beyond the issue of use of hijab by students in public schools. Though the central theme is still hijab, it has extended to persecution, stigmatization, deprivation and prevention of adult women in hijab from performing their civic responsibilities and enjoying social services and amenities provided for all citizens by the government.

“Reference has been made to ugly incidents in public places and the earlier those issues are addressed the better for peaceful coexistence in the South West. It appears the sub-region is sitting on a keg of gunpowder and the so called tolerance and peaceful co-existence in the area is nothing more than a mirage.

“Millions of female Yoruba Muslims were disenfranchised during past voters’ registration exercises for the 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 elections on account of their use of hijab. They were told the machine could not ‘capture’ their faces if they wore hijab. Whoever wanted to vote very badly among them had to derobe.

“It must be noted that it amounts to publicly undressing a Muslim woman when she is asked to remove her hijab in public. It is dehumanization of the highest order. Yet those officials did it. We affirm that South West Muslims are facing organized persecution. We are crying out to the state governments of Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti to do something about it before it becomes open crisis.

“Millions of other hijab-wearing Yoruba Muslims are still being denied possession of the national identity card today. They came forward to be photographed but the officials told them they must remove their hijab. Muslim men were asked to remove their caps or turbans. Some returned home in despair. Others succumbed out of frustration and helplessness. The experience of Muslim women in hijab is the same when they attempt to get international passports. They are asked to remove the hijab.

“The hypocrisy in the system becomes glaring and shocking when one finds that hijab-wearing women face no problem at all when they go for the national identity card or the international passport in Kano, Sokoto, or any other city in the North. So why so much hate in the South West? “Why is the system applying double standard? Where is the South West tolerance some people are talking about? It doesn’t exist. It is a sham, a myth. We must also ask why different rules are being applied for the same hijab in the same country by the same agency and under the same constitution?” he queried.

Akintola said Muslims should not be pushed to the background when it comes to sharing the dividends of democracy, adding that: “The freedom to use hijab in any public place, including schools, is one of the dividends of democracy and whoever denies it has committed a crime not only against womanhood but against humanity as a whole.”He therefore urged the state governments in the South West to check the excesses being committed against Muslims in the zone.

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