Some school authorities in Lagos State are forcing female Muslim students to remove their hijab before taking pictures meant for the West African Examination Council (WAEC) forms.
This is contained in a press release issued by the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) on Thursday, 6th December, 2018. The Islamic human rights organization mentioned names of some schools where the female Muslim students are allegedly being asked to remove their hijab for the ‘capturing’. Such schools include Government Secondary School, Ijanikin, Iba Housing Estate Senior Secondary School, Ajangbadi Senior High School and Oto-Awori Senior Grammar School.
Lamenting over the persecution of female Muslim children in Lagos schools, the director and founder of MURIC said, “It is very unfortunate that this crude attitude is manifesting in 21st century Lagos. It is retrogressive, archaic and anachronistic. The school principals and teachers involved should be ashamed of themselves.
“What crime has the Muslim girl-child committed? How does the hijab harm any teacher? Is it an amulet? Is it a weapon of mass destruction? Why must it be the South-West every time? The University of Ibadan International School has locked out all female Muslim students who wear hijab for the past two weeks thereby denying the girl child education which is critical to her intellectual growth. Teachers of Araromi Senior High School, Sari-Iganmu, Lagos State also went berserk on Wednesday, 21st November, 2018, sending all hijab-wearing students out of the school despite the LASG directive which clearly prohibited such action. Who is afraid of the hijab?
“We are calling the Lagos State Government’s (LASG) attention to the illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional activities of these reactionary elements. They should be called to order. These are rebellious teachers and enemies of peace. It should be noted that the action of these teachers is capable of disturbing public peace. We hope Lagos is listening.
“Once again, Nigerians can see more evidence of hypocrisy and falsehood in the claim that there is religious tolerance in the South-West. It is a farce, a mirage. The real truth is that although they constitute the majority, Muslims of the South-West are under siege by agents of neo-colonialism. Non-Muslims who are the minority occupy lofty positions and they use such positions to persecute Muslims.They deny them jobs, admission into schools and also undermine their progress in various ways.
“The issue of hijab is one out of many. The female Muslim children who are being oppressed are Yoruba. Interestingly, those who are oppressing them are also Yoruba. Most of the Muslim children are indigenes of the states where they reside and yet this is happening to them. It is wrongly assumed that there is religious tolerance in the sub-region because the Muslims are extremely forbearing.
“Nigerians and outsiders have been deceived about the true situation in Yorubaland concerning religious tolerance. It is time to do a concise analysis of the situation. Muslims and Christians tolerate themselves in the same family. They also tolerate themselves when they rent and live inside the same house even if they are not blood relations. But that is where tolerance stops. It does not extend to social relations or workplaces. Christians always stand in the way of Muslims when it comes to public issues. The average Christian in the South-West has been indoctrinated to use his or her office to promote her religion and to deny Muslims their rights.
“A good example is how Christians in Yorubaland reacted to the court judgement approving hijab in Osun State about three years ago. Christians instructed their own chidren to wear church choire garments to school! But do they still wear the church garments to school today? Could it be sustained? Divine truth will always overwhelm social truth no matter how long it takes.
“Nobody should blame Muslim parents from now on if they come out to defend their children. From now onwards, whoever persecutes our children on the basis of religion has persecuted the parents. Any teacher who harasses a Muslim student, male or female, has harassed all Muslims in the state and, indeed, in the entire country. From now on, our dogma is ‘harass one, harass all’.
“We will not allow teachers to give our children illegal instructions. It is illegal instruction to ask a female Muslim student to remove her hijab for any reason whatsoever. LASG has approved the use of hijab in all public schools and it was widely publicized. Principals and teachers are paid public servants and they should obey the government’s instruction.
“The approval of hijab by LASG is a major dividend of democracy to be enjoyed by Muslims in Lagos State after suffering religious persecution for decades. We will not stand akimbo while some disobedient teachers disallow our daughters from enjoying this freedom. Any principal or teacher who instructs female Muslim students to remove their hijab is disobeying the state government.
“That is not only insurbordination, it is also a criminal offence and we will pursue the legal implication to a logical conclusion. Muslims are tax payers and the money we pay to government’s coffers forms an integral part of government’s revenue which is used to pay the teachers. Our children have every right to have access to education without let or hinderance. It is ‘hinderance’ to ask a Muslim girl-child to remove her hijab. We demand full compliance with LASG directive. It has become law in Lagos State because it is the crux of a court judgement.
“Those teachers should know that Muslims also network. Muslim students meet their parents at home and the latter report in the mosques and Islamic organizations. Many of these reports are passed to MURIC and we have a full dossier on them. Can those teachers try what they are doing now in the North? Can they try it in Kano or Bauchi? Is it not the same country and the same constitution? Even WAEC did not instruct them to derobe students in hijab. It is sheer overzealousness on their part and pathological hatred for genuine Muslims. The only Muslims they can tolerate are the weak ones who readily compromise their religion
“The implication of asking a female Muslim student to remove her hijab before ‘capturing’ is very serious. It means the invigilator may ask her to remove her hijab during examination for proper identification since, ceteris paribus, she will be wearing her hijab while writing the examination. This is also most likely to demoralize and destabilize her. It may affect her performance and examination result.
“MURIC therefore charges Muslim parents in the state and throughout Nigeria to wake up and protect their children. Possess your possession. These innocent children are looking up to you in loco parentis for protection. We did not send them to school to be persecuted, intimidated and harassed. Heartless teachers are out to demolish our children’s spirit. They are playing on their emotions. They are playing God in the lives of our children. They are demoralizing them. It is time to rise to their defence. It is now or never.
“Islamic liberation theology affirms that leaders, parents and those in position of authority shall be held accountable for the sufferings of those being persecuted on earth. Almighty Allah says, ‘We shall question those to whom the messages (of Allah) are delivered. We shall also question those who delivered them” (Qur’an 7:6).
“We must also remind parents that it is a religious duty to stand up for those under persecution. Qur’an 4:75 says, “What stops you from struggling in the cause of Allah when men, women and children are being persecuted, and they are crying out, ‘Oh Lord, rescue us from this land whose occupants are oppressors and give us from You a defender, and give us from You a helper!”
“Every Muslim parent should be able to do this without applying violence. Go to your child’s school and ask questions whenever your child reports a case of harassment. Don’t suffer in silence. Let your local Imam or Islamic organization act on your behalf if you cannot go. These teachers are discriminating against Muslim children under the false premise of the ‘slave children’ dogma.
“We are servants of Allah, not servants of any living creature no matter how highly placed. We refuse to be slaves in our own country. Neither shall we accept the status of second class citizens. We would rather be free men in the grave than live like puppets or slaves. The principle of equality before the law must be respected”.
MURIC also appealed to Islamic organizations in the country to come to the rescue of the Muslim girl-child. “We urge all Islamic organizations in the country, particularly the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN) to rise to the occasion. The Muslim girl-child has become an endangered specie today and we must all wake up to our responsibility to protect her. We must not disappoint her. The girl-child is our daughter, our sister, our wife and our mother. Nobody will protect her if we fail to speak up today. Islamic organizations are hereby advised to set up monitoring committees that will visit all the schools around their vicinity. They are however cautioned on the need to avoid violence at all cost.
“We call on LASG to walk its talk. Female Muslim children need the government’s protection from the excesses of fanatical Christian principals and teachers. We charge civil society, particularly human rights groups to speak up. Muslims are human beings too and we deserve human rights. Where are the human rights lawyers? Let them speak up now or shut up forever.
Where are the women liberation organizations? Why are they always silent when Muslim women are the victims? Why are they ignoring the cries of the Muslim girl-child? What crime has the Muslim girl-child committed? Why does she deserve humiliation, dehumanization, deprivation of her personal dignity and criminal denial of her Allah-given fundamental human rights? We charge all human rights groups to search their consciences.
“These are astounding cases of injustice against little children. Here is a case study for those who accuse Muslims of violence and terrorism. Violence and terrorism are mere symtoms. The real disease is injustice. Violence and terrorism are mere smoke. Injustice is the fire. There is no smoke without fire and it is the height of stupidity for any firefighter to turn his water hoses on the smoke, leaving the fire to continue raging. Justice is the soul of peace. Those who deny one cannot enjoy the other. This is MURIC’s philosophy of violence and terrorism.
“In our concluding remarks, we appeal to LASG to take urgent action against teachers who disobey its directives regarding the donning of hijab. Muslims should not be blamed for rejecting illegal instructions from rebellious and recalcitrant school principals and teachers. Muslim parents and Islamic organizations must get ready for the coming struggle. The Muslim girl-child must not remain a slave forever.