TMC appplauds Supreme Court ruling on hijab
The Muslim Congress has lauded the verdict of the Supreme Court of Nigeria approving the use of hijab in government-owned schools in Lagos State.
The ruling ends a long-drawn legal battle over the constitutionality of the head-covering clothing for female Muslim students.
The Supreme Court upheld the appellate court judgment, which had earlier set aside the decision of the High Court, Lagos State, banning female Muslim students from wearing hijab to school.
The apex court deemed the ruling a violation of the fundamental rights to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, the dignity of human persons and freedom from discrimination.
“Hijab has become the subject of fierce debate following the lawsuit filed by two 12-year-old girls of Atunrashe Junior High School, Surulere, Lagos, Asiyat AbdulKareem and Maryam Oyeniyi in 2014, under the aegis of the Lagos Area Unit of Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN), after they were barred from school for wearing hijab.
The apex court ruling, which marks a hard-fought victory after eight years of legal proceedings, should serve as a landmark case on discrimination in public spaces and a boost for religious protection and freedom.
“The court judgment underscores the need for guarantees of religious freedom to extend to the workplace, where discriminatory policies are often used in subjugating citizens, who choose to uphold their religious beliefs.
The Federal Government must see this development as part of the effort to create a truly inclusive society where religion and culture are not just respected, but also protected.
Authorities in public institutions, the leadership of organisations and business owners must brush up on the nuances of bias and do more to accommodate the diverse background of their workforce. The right of Muslim students and workers to worship must be respected, especially, the observance of the Friday (Jumat) prayers, at their appointed time. For all intents and purposes, this court verdict should impact how our diversity is accounted for.
“We urge the Lagos State government to effect the judgment without delay and ensure full compliance by school authorities in the state. The teachers who take sadistic pleasure in tormenting female Muslim students, for daring to appear modest, must be treated with the full force of the law to serve as a deterrent to many who are wont to flout the rule in contemptuous disregard for the court verdict. We also urge Muslims never to cower in the face of any intimidating attempt to abuse their Allah-given rights.”
The Muslim Congress also congratulated the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria, Lagos Area Unit in particular, and by extension, the Nigerian Muslim community “for their courage and determination; the parents of the students for their stoical attitude to outface the uphill struggle, for without the unwavering collective resolve to take the long walk, this victory might have just been a mirage.
“We, therefore, commend the tenacity of the pro-Hijab legal team, led by Alh Gani Adetola-Kazeem of blessed memory, who signed and filed the brief of argument a few weeks before his death. History will forever be kind to the late legal icon for this great feat. We pray to Allah to overlook his failings, have mercy on him and grant him the best of place in Paradise. We salute the bravery and astuteness of the legal team and also acknowledge the contributions of all who played a part in achieving this glorious triumph. May Allah honour them all in this world and the after-life.