UI International School shut down over hijab crisis
The religious crisis over the wearing of hijab by female Moslem students of the University of Ibadan International Secondary School (ISI) worsened on Monday forcing its management to shut down the school indefinitely.
Some Moslems parents were said to have staged a protest which the management feared might become violent.
The closure was a sequel to the religious crisis being foisted over a move by a group of parents under the banner of Muslim Parents Forum who are advocating the wearing of Hijab in the 55-year old private school.
When the crisis started last week, both the Parents Teachers Association and the Board of Governors reaffirmed the present dress code as stipulated in the rules and regulation of the school.
The Board chaired by Professor Abideen Aderinto had empowered the school to enforce the dress code of the school while appealing to advocates of hijab to abide by the extant rules.
However, the peaceful resumption of school was disrupted again today when some parents brought their Hijab wearing girls to school and were shut out of the school.
Apparently anticipating such reaction, the group mobilized and carried placard singing songs that wearing hijab is a right and must not be denied willing Muslim girls.
The chairman of the forum Alhaji A.A Balogun, whose daughter was prevented from entering the school, was involved in the ensuing disturbance.
As the protest escalates, security men were mobilised while the school was put under lock and key parents rushed to pick their wards.
Speaking on the closure of the school, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the UI and Chairman Board of Governors, Professor Adeyinka Abideen Aderinto stated that “I am reaching you through this medium to apologise for failing to hold classes today, and for closing the school to academic activities. This was a very difficult decision for me to take on behalf of the Board of Governors, but one which I had to take to prevent further breakdown of law and order.
“You will all recall that we have been battling with a religious crisis since Monday, November 12, 2018, following a letter we received from a body of Muslim parents notifying us of the commencement of the use of hijab by female Muslim students.
You were also aware of the resolutions of the Parents/Teachers Association’s meeting on Tuesday, November 13, 2018, and the decisions of the Board of Governors after a meeting that held on Wednesday, November 14, 2019.
In the last one week, and particularly over the last weekend, there were many meetings held with the group by concerned individuals and notable Islamic leaders on the need for the group to drop their violent approach, and allow the school activities to proceed without further disruption while a lasting solution would continue to be sought by all stakeholders in the ISI project.
Unfortunately, the group refused to yield to this call by eminent citizens, and continued their agitation, and preventing the school from opening for normal academic activities. It is most unfortunate that our Dear children have to be made to go through this experience, but I assure you that the school will come out stronger at the end of it all.
“On the part of the Board of Governors, we are making all efforts to ensure that our children are not kept out of school for long, bearing in mind that our Advance level, SS3 and JSS 3 students will be writing their WAEC examinations early next year. I, therefore appeal to all of you to remain calm while concerted efforts are being made to ensure that we reopen the school very soon. ”
Meanwhile, the Muslim Community of Oyo State has on Monday declared that the claim by the management of ISI that the school is a private one is baseless and has no basis.
General- Secretary of Muslim community of Oyo State, Sheik Ismail Busari while speaking argued that the claim by the management of the school was untrue.
Busari, while addressing journalists at the front of the gate of the school on Monday, maintained that “When has ISI become a private establishment when the UI DVC academic is the chairman of the board”.
“And section 32 subsection 2 of the 1999 constitution as amended guaranteed the right of Muslim ladies to adorns Hijab. We are operating common law but as you can see the common law is not common in Nigeria.
“Even in Europe, Muslims and Christians learn side by side. It is allowed in Europe even not only for students but for military men and uniform men. Hijab is decency, it is protection, their appearance distracts nobody”.