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The hijab controversy in International School, Ibadan


[FILE PHOTO] University of Ibadan International School (ISI)

‘Kindness has no church. Peace has no religion. Compassion has no temple, and love has no borders.”

Sir: The recent scenes in the International School Ibadan, where parents campaigned for their wards to wear Hijab to school as a right is bemusing.

It reminded me of the scenes in Osun State some years ago when Christian students were asked to wear choir dresses to school, following the earlier approval of the state government to allow Muslim students wear hijab to school. It is embarrassing to be a Nigerian at a moment like this.

Times like now, many people aren’t proud to be called Nigerians. When people elsewhere are busy making plans to launch satellites into space, to venture to the moon, we worry over dress.

Educational foundation prepared for camaraderie without borders is now a mean-spirited, hate-filled centre, where youngsters are groomed to look at others as our ‘enemy.’

I find it hard to believe that we can subscribe to this moral Pharisaism and to Manichaean views about what is good and bad.

The numerous religious sects in our country haven’t advanced civilisation, they have taken us backwards. Religion focuses on building sects and never on love.

In Nigeria, ours are about religious contest and there is no relationship between religion and society.

My friend’s younger sisters (Sule) even though from a Muslim home attended St. Anne’s school (a Catholic school) in Kakuri, Kaduna.

It was a matter of choice. His father drove his daughters to the school every day, he never bothered that it was and still is a Catholic school. They partook in the Catholic ritual on assembly ground every day. It was a matter of choice.

My friend Fidelia (a Catholic) attended Babcock University but couldn’t cope with its strict regulations as it concerns the attending of services on Saturday and thereafter sought admission to the University of Ibadan where we met.

Do people have choices in life? If the parents in Ibadan can’t cope with the no-wearing of hijab policy in ISI, can’t they seek admission elsewhere? Why encourage dangerous raucous brickbats as though ISI is the only option for their wards?

You do not hear these zealots talk about the growth of moral responsibility and exploration of spiritual values and of moral instruction for personal, family, community and international interaction.

What you have is campaigns of prejudice and a sense of superiority.

We seem to have an overdose of religious matters which is now tearing us apart instead of unifying us.

Why must government encourage students to wear hijab on their uniforms even in Christian schools? Hijab can be won in Muslim schools. Why not recommend a cap as it were in the past.

Why do we hold so much on to what one Indian spiritual teacher Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in his book, ‘Wisdom for the new Millennium’ referred to as ‘peel of the banana rather than the banana? These people do not know anything about spirituality outside the mainstream of religion and haven’t heard about the philosophical basis of education.

Simon Abah.

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