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Muslim Professionals Condemn Ban On Use Of Hijab

By Ayo Balogun, Lagos

The Companion, an association of Muslim men in Businesses and Professions has condemned last Friday ruling by an Ikeja High Court’s ban, on the use of Hijab in the Lagos state public schools.

The group in a press statement issued Tuesday in Lagos, by its National President, Barrister Musibau Oyefeso noted that the judgement was a violation of female Muslim students’ right, “especially those who have attained the age of puberty”.

Barrister Oyefeso declared the ruling was “un-acceptable, offensive and provocative to Muslim parents in particular and Muslims in general”, alleging that  it was an attempt to deny Muslims their fundamental human right.

The association alerted that it would not take the matter lightly, insisting that the judgement was a discrimination against Muslims and denied them the right to practise their religion as ” divinely instructed”.

“We call the attention of the judiciary and indeed other stakeholders to the fact that so many states in Nigeria allow the use of Hijab in public schools and this has not been known or reported to destroy uniformity sought by government in the issuance of dress code. We wonder how Lagos State’s case is different.

“We call on the state government to voluntarily ignore the judgement and uphold the right of female Muslim students by issuing directive to school heads and principals to allow use of hijab to students who subscribe to its use” the National Companion head demanded.

Barrister Oyefeso maintained that it was only this way the government would have shown that it was “father to all and does not alienate any section of the community”. He stated wearing of Hijab did not in any way offend the secularity  nature as provided for, in Section 10 of the Nigerian Constitution.

The group cautioned the government that the judgement, if eventually implemented was capable of creating avoidable tension and crisis, hence, destroy the peaceful co-existence and religious tolerance which the state currently enjoys.

“We are not in doubt whatsoever that some overzealous teachers, school heads and principals will take full advantage of the judgement to taunt and victimize female Muslim students as witnessed in the recent past” the association observed.

Meanwhile, The Companion has called on all students in the state public schools and the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, (MSSN) Lagos State Area Unit (the suit’s plaintiff), to maintain peace and allow the lawyers to appeal the case as well as take other steps necessary to upturn the judgement.

It also called call on them to be patient and be hopeful of victory at the end of the struggle.

On the coming elections, the association called on Muslims in the state to “shine their eyes” and be mindful of those they vote into power.

It would be recalled Justice Modupe Onyeabor ruled in favour of ban on the use of Hijab by the female students in the state’s public schools, last Friday, following a suit filed by the MSSN on May 27, 2013.



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