Human Rights Commission must go beyond condemnation of those who prevent female Muslim students from using Hijab – IWF

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The Islamic Welfare Foundation (IWF) has tasked the National Human Rights to move beyond the realm of condemnation of those who deny female Muslim students the right to use hijab in public schools.

IWF stated this in a statement released on Wednesday and signed by Dr. H.K.A. Kalejaiye and Dr. Abdulkarim Oloyede, National Coordinator and National Secretary respective.

The Muslim association said “We want to place on record that virtually all the hierarchies of courts in Nigeria have put Judicial imprimatur on the rights of the girl child to use hijab anywhere in Nigeria including the schools. We make bold to say that these court decisions did not give a distinction between public, private or grant aided schools. It is important to stress that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is clear and unequivocal on the rights of citizens to practice their religion irrespective of where they find themselves.”

The IWF therefore added that “The National Human Rights Commission must move beyond the realm of condemnation but must take pro-active steps to prosecute the perpetrators of discrimination against human rights where ever it is committed in Nigeria.”

Read the full statement below:

THE ISLAMIC WELFARE FOUNDATION’S (IWF) STAND ON THE RIGHT OF MUSLIM GIRLS TO WEAR HIJAB IN SCHOOLS

It is no longer news that some State governments and grant-aided schools have taken it upon themselves to create a needless and baseless controversy on the use of hijab in public schools. The Islamic Welfare Foundation condemns in very strong terms this affront on our Constitution and will resist it with all legal means available to us as citizens of this great country.

We want to place on record that virtually all the hierarchies of courts in Nigeria have put Judicial imprimatur on the rights of the girl child to use hijab anywhere in Nigeria including the schools. We make bold to say that these court decisions did not give a distinction between public, private or grant aided schools. It is important to stress that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is clear and unequivocal on the rights of citizens to practice their religion irrespective of where they find themselves.

The Islamic Welfare Foundation hereby calls on governments at all levels, especially the State governments and particularly the States in the South West and Kwara State, that they should stop treating Muslim students as second class citizens in their States. As critical stakeholders, we will not be ready to play second fiddle in our homes. Our female children in schools are constitutionally entitled to practice their faith by adorning the hijab as this is not only their rights as citizens of Nigeria but also as guaranteed under all human rights International instruments.

We want to add that we are yet to see the painting of Mary, the mother of Jesus (peace be upon her) without a veil/hijab anywhere in the world. All over the country, you can never see Catholic sisters without the equivalent of a hijab in any public place, be it at their schools, market places, hospitals etc. Wearing of hijab is therefore a needless controversy that ordinarily should not have arisen at all.

 And going beyond the shores of Nigeria to our colonial masters, Britain, there are no specific legislations against the wearing of hijab in public schools. Also in the United States of American, Muslim girls are allowed to wear hijab in schools, just as Sikh children can wear turbans and Jewish children can wear the kippah. So, why do Nigerian Christians want to be holier than the pope?

OUR DEMAND

1. It is the irreducible minimum rights of our female students to wear hijab in schools irrespective of the founder and the funding mechanism.

2. Education though is in the concurrent list which makes both the Federal and State governments responsible for making it available to citizens. Muslim girls must no longer be discriminated against by failing to recognize their right to practice their faith by the use of hijab in all schools. The only intervention that can be accommodated is to design a uniform hijab for all female Muslim students irrespective of the school and how it is established or funded.

3. The National Human Rights Commission must move beyond the realm of condemnation but must take pro-active steps to prosecute the perpetrators of discrimination against human rights where ever it is committed in Nigeria.

4. All Muslims must be united in condemning this dastardly act.

Dr. H. K. A. Kalejaiye,                                                     Dr. Abdulkarim Oloyede,

IWF National Coordinator.                                                IWF National Secretary.

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