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We will not allow prosecution of Muslim students in Kwara, says MURIC

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The Nigerian Islamic human rights organization, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has condemned the harassment of Muslim girl child in Kwara State.

‘Some public school teachers had recently forced female Muslim students to remove their hijab within the school premises, which has generated controversy across the state leading to the closure of ten schools by the state government’.

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The Director of MURIC, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, in a statement, vowed to take all necessary constitutional measures to stop the oppression of innocent female Muslim pupils across the state.

According to him, “What is happening in Kwara State today regarding the use of hijab in schools is exactly the manifestation of the five evils which Neville Chamberlain spoke about: namely, brute force, bad faith, injustice, oppression and persecution. On our own part, we will not allow those five evils to prevail in Kwara, as they did in some states in the South West on the issue of hijab.

He said: “The authorities of those ten missionary schools should be ashamed of behaving like oppressors and slave masters. They are making a mountain out of an ordinary molehill. A mere headscarf. Britain allows hijab in its schools. The United States also allows it. Who are those Kwara teachers trying to emulate? It is anachronistic, myopic and parochial. The world has moved on but they have chosen to be stagnant. It is an exhibition of colonial mentality and gymnastic religiosity and it must stop.“

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He added that missionary schools that insist on stripping Muslim children of their Islamic identity should be ashamed of themselves, perhaps they were not aware of the impression they were creating.

“That was exactly what the colonial master did in those days and that was why we accused them of displaying colonial mentality. The colonialists would not allow any Muslim to attend their schools without changing his or her name to a Christian name. Rasheed became Richard. Ishaq became Isaac and Mikail became Michael. The Muslims bore the persecution with patience and perseverance until the colonialists left in 1960. But are we still in pre-independence Nigeria? Even apartheid has collapsed in South Africa. How then can we stomach religious apartheid in a predominantly Muslim state?

“But not in Kwara State. It is an abomination to deny Muslims their Allah-given and fundamental human rights in a state where they enjoy a comfortable majority status. Muslim leaders and Islamic scholars in the state have to wake up. Female Muslim children are being stripped of their hijab in Ilorin, the city of alfas? It is incredible. It had better not be.

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MURIC advised Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq not to provoke Kwara Muslims by making illegal, illegitimate and unconstitutional compromises to the persecutors of Muslim children.

“The Nigerian Constitution is the font et origo of all bye-laws, rules and regulations in the land and Section 38 (i) (ii) not only guarantees freedom of religion but also it’s ‘manifestation’ which is the role hijab stands to play.

“We are shocked to our marrows that at a time when the whole world is laying emphasis on girl-child education, missionary schools are depriving the girl-child access to education on account of religion. Article 14 of the United Nations Convention on the rights of children guarantees freedom of thought, conscience and religion. It says inter alia, ‘Children have the right to think and believe what they want and to practice their religion, as long as they are not stopping other people from enjoying their rights.’

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“The people of Kwara must learn how to coexist peacefully. Those children have been using hijab in those schools all these years. Why the sudden déjà vu? What has changed? Who incited them against their Muslim neighbours so much so that they are taking it out on innocent school children? This new face is an exhibition of deep-seated hatred.

“Kwara State Government should be careful not to run afoul of the constitution. Government must be bold, truthful and pragmatic. The Kwara Muslim community must reject this attempt to deprive their children of the right to education without duress.

He urged Muslim parents to guide and protect their children from being coerced into compromising their faith, adding; “This is a duty which parents must not abdicate. The children may have to blame the parents in future if they fail to stand up for the kids now. Islamic scholars in the state must not sell the children’s rights for a pot of porridge. Posterity will judge all of us.

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