By Luminous Jannamike, ABUJA
A coalition of 13 Muslim women’s organisations in Nigeria has urged President Muhammadu Buhari and governors to end discrimination against Muslims for wearing hijab (Islamic headscarf).
The coalition made the plea on Tuesday during a press briefing to commemorate the 2022 World Hijab Day, in Abuja with the theme: ‘Hijab is Our Crown, not Our Crime’.
Speaking on behalf of the coalition, Hajiya Maryam Ahman, noted that several cases of anti-hijab sentiments and other discriminatory practices against Muslim females were recorded in schools within Kwara and Ogun states as well as the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, orientation camp, in Akwa Ibom state last year.
According to her, religious discrimination is a major setback for the country and must be addressed urgently.
She said, “We call on our governments at all levels to create and provide services that cater to all, including those whose appearance is defined by their belief and obedience to a
command of the divine creator.
“We call on the National Assembly to introduce and pass laws that serve the interest of
all citizens and which protect the rights and freedoms of all to education, health, employment, finance, homeownership, careers, etc. regardless of what one wears.
“We urge you in strong terms, to speedily pass the ‘Religious Discrimination (Prohibition,
Prevention) Bill, 2021’ which passed second reading in March 2021, and prevent it
from entering the basement of discarded bills.
“We call on the Ministry of Education at the federal and state levels to pay attention to
unnecessary victimization of students, which has become a recurring decimal in our schools and institutions.
“We call on the National Youth Service Corps authorities to introduce an optional set of
uniforms for Muslim female corps members that desire to appear in modest clothing. They should also set up a monitoring mechanism at orientation camps to ensure no corps member is denied the right to protect the sanctity of her beliefs by removing her hijab or being forced to wear items such as short knickers.”
Members of the coalition include FOMWAN, NASFAT, Women in Da’awah, Ansaruddeen, Al-Habibiya, JADAFIA, Al-Mu’minat and Abuja Muslim Forum.
Others are An-nisa Foundation, the Sisters of Jannah, The Criterion, the Initiative for Muslim Sisters, and Hidaya Islamic Charity, amongst others.