‘You have legal right to wear hijab, enjoy it’
Muslim women across the country have frowned at continuous molestation and victimization in schools and workplaces as a result of hijab usage.
The female Muslims, who expressed their worries during a rally to commemorate the World Hijab Day in Lagos, said the harassment has continued despite their peaceful nature. They enjoined the female to be free to put on hijab anywhere, including schools, saying: “You have a legal right to wear the hijab, enjoy it,”
The rally was held simultaneously in three venues: Maryland to Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park, Ojota, Roundabout bus stop Otto to Cele bus stop Ijanikin and from joju round about to Sango round about.
The women at the rally include members of Al-Mu’minaat (The Believing Women) Organisation; Federation of Muslim Women (FOMWAN); Nasrul- lahi -li Fathi Society of Nigeria (NASFAT); The Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN); and Organization of Tadhamunul Muslimeen (OTM) among others.
The Muslims displayed placards and boards with inscriptions promoting the acceptance of the use of hijab in the country.
Also, showing concerns about hijab are the Lagos State Secretariat Community Central Mosque, the MSSNLagos Sisters’ Circle and Papa Ajao Muslims Assembly (PAMAS).
Amirah of Al-Mu’minaat in Lagos State, Alhaja Khadijah Abdus-Salam, lamented that government officials “ brutalise ” schoolgirls and female Muslims for wearing Hijab.
She said: “The antagonists of Hijab project have unabatedly continue their projects and persecution of our school girls and women in Hijab. Some school principals brutalize schoolgirls for no reasons other than wearing Hijab, why this?”
She stated furher: “We are treated differently and looked upon differently because of what we wear, some look at Hijab as a form of enslavement, it is not, rather it’s liberating. We are being harassed with a metal detector, body search and passing through an extra security check, why? Enough is Enough! Stop this discrimination! Hijab tells those I meet to deal with my intellect and not to focus on my body.
“Hijab has come to stay, it is a divine injunction and the word of our Lord is true. We say to the world; Let us be! Let the Hijabis make their choice, don’t design what we should wear. Our Lord is the Best Designer. It is not something that I might want or not want to do; it is something I have to do. Does wearing Hijab affect you personally or has an effect on the society? Let us be! It is so infuriating when my hijab is used as a symbol for their ignorance and worse indeed.”
The representative of NASFAT, Mujeedat Abajo Musa, described hijab as a constitutional right that is capable of reducing rape in the society.
She said, “Hijab is a constitutional right. With hijab, the issue of rape can be reduced in a state like Lagos. For peace to reign, we want them to respect us.”
Also, the representative of the MSSNLagos, Hajia Olaoluwa Rahma, urged Muslim women to be bold to put on their hijab.
“Our hijab is our right. We should never be shy to defend ourselves. We should always speak up. As Muslims, we must be free from oppression. Let us be free to put on our hijab anywhere, including schools. You have a legal right to wear the hijab, enjoy it,” she said.
On her part, FOMWAN’s representative, Hajia Rofiat Owonikoko, said that Islamic organisations won’t stop engaging the government and appropriate authorities if hijab harassment persists. “Hijab is Allah’s injunction. Our hijab is our own Permanent Voters Card (PVC). The time for us to take massive action has come. Hijab cannot continue to be a sign of oppression,” she said.
Reacting to why hijab-wearing Muslims are being harassed in Nigeria, Hajia Sherifah Yusuf-Ajibade, Coordinator of Social Advocacy Project, said, “I think it is bigotry and Islamophobia. Everywhere in the world, there is freedom of religion. If you don’t deny other peoples’ right, why should you be disturbed to practice your own right? People in foreign schools are not denied their right to use the hijab, why should ours be different?”
Meanwhile, Lagos State Secretariat Community Central Mosque, has urged Muslim women to deepen their knowledge of Islam in order to uphold the standard of modesty in the society.
The group appealed to public and private organization not to deny Muslim women employment opportunity due to the usage of head cover (Hijab). It noted that Muslim women adorn it to maintain modesty and privacy from unrelated males.
Speaking during the commemoration of the World Hijab Day, the Formal Permanent Secretary for Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation (WAPA), Mrs. Riskat Akiode, said the use of hijab or headgear does not deter a Muslim woman from getting to the pinnacle of her carrier.
She advised Muslim women to be dedicated to their carrier, ensuring sense of modesty, positive attitude and hard working. “Your ability to deliver the goals and objectives of your organization and contribute to human development will take you to a greater height. With that your impact will be felt and you will be fit to compete with anybody irrespective of religion or tribe”.
The Women Affairs Secretary (LSCM), Alhaja Aisha Adams, said the initiative is to create awareness and encourage Muslim women who wear the headscarf (Hijab).
The Guest Speaker, Deputy Director Ministry of Education, Alhaja Busurat Shafi, noted that Islam is a preventive religion and hijab is one of those ways by which Allah has prescribed to curb fornication and adultery in the society.
Also, The Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN), Lagos State Area Unit Sisters’ Circle has clarified that the use of hijab is a commandment by Allah for women to cover their body, which is clearly stated in the Holy Quran.
This clarification was made at the MSSN Sisters’ Da’wah conference, in commemoration of the World Hijab Day, which was held at Federal College of Education (Tech) Akoka, Lagos with the theme: ‘The Rope That Binds’.
The Guest Speaker, and Manager Tax, Federal Inland Revenue Services, Dr. Fauzuyah Olajide, said the only valid reason anyone should use hijab should be because Allah commanded it and because irrespective of colour or race, hijab is a unique bond of love that binds all Muslim sisters together.
She implored parent to encourage their children on the usage of hijab and give them evidence on why they have to adorn the hijab as prescribed in the holy Quran and Hadith of the prophet.