•Says: We won’t tolerate it again
•As ten Muslim bodies join forces
•Muslim women condemn killing of CAN leader
As Muslim women in Nigeria join their counterparts across the world tomorrow to mark the World Hijab Day tomorrow, the National Amirah of Al-Mu’minaat Organisation, (the Believing women) Hajia Nimatullah Abdulquadri has said the group will no longer condone and tolerate any abuse, harassment and profiling of female Muslims in hijab by any individual or group of persons.
Hajia AbdulQuadri who stated this during a press briefing to commemorate the World Hijab Day, held at its headquarters, Jibowu, Lagos Wednesday, added that the group will apply all legal means to seek redress against erring person.
Also, no fewer than ten Muslim organisations have joined hands in the advocacy and protection of rights of female Muslims to wear hijab in school, offices and public institutions. The Coalition also called on government at all levels to ensure that Muslim females on hijab were given equal rights with their counterparts in the society.
At the Press conference held at the headquarters of Al-Muminat, Hajia AbdulQuadri said: “Image capturing for Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information (IPPIS), Drivers License at Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC), International Passport at the Nigerian Immigration Service and National Identity Card at the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has become burdensome for Muslim women. They are insulted, ridiculed and molested by officials in these organisations to remove their head covers or expose their ears even though their faces and finger-prints are visible.
“Several Muslim girls have been physically assaulted by having their hijabs ripped off their heads due to hate and extremism. The denial of Muslim girls’ education and assault on women in hijab is a rape of justice and genocide against the Muslim community. This is because some parents may deny their female children education due to the oppression. This will further increase the already poor girl child enrolment figures, increase the number of out-of-school children and a continuation of the cycle of ignorance, backwardness, and of course poverty.
Al-Mu’minaat called on all true human rights advocates to fight for the rights of Muslim women. According to the group, Muslims have tolerated caps and berets since 1842 when the Christian missionaries opened their first school in South-west Nigeria. “Caps and berets have Christian foundation and philosophy behind them, we have worn them for too long and perhaps that is the main reason Christians in public and private institutions are vehemently against the hijab, even though women wear it freely in Britain and other advanced democracies.
“Government policies and laws protect the rights of women to wear the hijab but fanatical non-Muslims in positions of authority spare no opportunity to victimize Muslim women and girls for daring to change the narrative of backwardness and failure by striving for excellence even with their hijabs.
“The narratives have changed, we shall no longer allow the biases and stereotypes of failure and backwardness to linger in the Muslim community register. Our success stories continue to speak for what we represent. Sisters in hijab and even face veils are performing excellently at all levels of education and in various disciplines. The Muslim woman won’t be left behind any longer.
“Muslim women in the military and paramilitary are forced to do away with their hijab. This is a denial of their rights. The constitution seeks to protect all citizens and so Muslims in all professions, the military inclusive must be allowed to be Muslims indeed. It only enhances inclusivity, tolerance and ensures nobody is left behind. We hereby demand that Muslim ladies serving the nation in the National Youth Services Corps (NYSC) and in military or paramilitary be allowed to use the hijab.
“We shall not surrender to those who will not allow us exercise our constitutional rights while we are not trespassing on theirs. For as long as harassment, discrimination, stigmatisation and profiling of persons in hijab continue, we shall not be tired of using all legal means and instruments at our disposal to fight for justice.
“We call on Muslims in Southern Nigeria, to come together and re-strategise. Our children are traumatised daily, their self-confidence derided. Our cries seem unheard by the government, media and civil society because they are selective with their attention, we will not continue to lament in the corners of our rooms when even court judgements in our favour are not respected.
“We are ready to sue and prosecute any individual or officers of government and other institutions such as teachers, principals who go against the constitution of Nigeria and court pronouncements on use of hijab. Religious discrimination and assaults are crimes and we will make scapegoats of these criminals. That may be the solution to the incessant harassment. Islam is a peaceful way of life and we shall not allow religious bigots to turn us into war mongers.
“It is pertinent to add our voice to the condemnation of Boko Haram and all such misguided groups killing innocent individuals. The murder of a chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Adamawa is an act that is against Islam. Boko Haram does not represent Islam in any way. Such groups are evil and must not be associated with Islam and Muslims. Indeed, they are creations of perverted systems that have much to gain from insecurity and disharmony in Nigeria. Our condolences go to the families of Christians and Muslims who are victims of Boko Haram’s savagery and we pray to Allah to destroy the group and expose their sponsors. Amin.
“We call on the federal government not to relent in their efforts to end banditry, kidnappings and the menace of Boko Haram. Security of lives and properties endangers sustainable development.
“We call on all Muslims to exercise restraint even as we fight for our constitutional rights and we appreciate all objective non-Muslims who have supported our fight for justice and equity in Nigeria. We will continue to fight for our rights without trespassing on the rights of others. The hijab is a symbol of Islam and the identity of Muslim women. #MyHijabMyIdentity,” she said.
Muslim oganisations demand equal rights for females on hijab
Earlier same day, the coalition during a Press Conference held at Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre, Alausa, Ikeja, to commemorate World Hijab Day 2020 with theme: “Unity in Diversity” said there had been continuous discrimination against Muslims wearing hijab in the society, hence, affecting their human rights.
The organisations are Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN) Lagos state Area Unit; Nasru-lahi-Fathi Society (NASFAT); Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC); Al Mu’minaat (The believing Women Organisation) Lagos State chapter; Hijab Rights Advocacy Initiative (HRAI); Federation of Muslim Women Associations of Nigeria (FOMWAN); Muslim Public Affairs Centre ( MPAC); Ansar-Ud-Deen Youth of Nigeria (ADYAN); Guild of Muslim Professionals (GMP); Lagos Secretariat Community Central Mosque, Alausa (LSCCM); Pristine Cactus Foundation; The Criterion and International Muslim Women Union (IMWU).
The Executive Director, Hijab Rights Advocacy Initiative, Mutiat Orolu-Balogun, on behalf of the coalition, said that discrimination and denial of human rights affected many more people than simply their direct victims, as family members, communities and societies themselves were adversely affected.
“We want to be allowed to carry out our duties and contribute to our society without fear of discrimination or experiencing discrimination.
“We want our daughters to be able to attend schools, register and write exams in their hijab without intimidation, abuse and discrimination.
“We want to have equal access to services of regulatory bodies without being asked or expected to first compromise our faith.
“We want to be given a level playing field like everyone else, not to be denied job interviews, job placements and opportunities because we dress as obligated by our faith,” she said.
According to her, hijab is a human rights as much as it is a religious right protected by the constitution.
Orolu-Balogun said that being able to wear the hijab by female Nigerian Muslims without fear or incidents of discrimination or abuse was the practical application of the constitutional provision.
“2019 was the year of hijabis! Despite all challenges faced in our schools, workplace and the society at large, we Muslim women in Hijab triumphed against all odds.
“We have excelled in academics, our careers, professions, and nurturing our families. We have proven yet again that we are valuable citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, contributing positively to our communities in every way we can, and to the world at large,” she said.