• ‘Right to Hijab constitutional, fundamental’
The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) has finally broken silence on the Hijab debate raging in Ilorin, Kwara State, noting that the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is repaying the years-long tolerance of Muslims with intolerance.
The Islamic body under the leadership of the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Saad Abubakar III passed this comment in a statement issued to pressmen in Abuja on Monday, March 29.
NSCIA said the right of every willing Muslim girl to don the Hijab is constitutional, adding that CAN has refused to toe the path of legality and instead embracing violence.
CAN and several religious bodies had heated the polity by inciting the Christian faithful in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital against the government on the issue of Hijab, ordering them to vehemently resist Muslims willing to wear the Hijab.
Commenting on the issue, NSCIA said: “This is the same strategy underpinning the needless hubbub over hijab in Kwara state and elsewhere. It is given that the right to hijab is constitutionally guaranteed. However, to CAN, constitutionality does not matter where intolerance festers and it has resorted to toe the path of violence. Section 38, Subsection 1 of the Nigerian Constitution (as amended in 2011) states categorically thus:
“Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion…(either alone or in community with others, and in public and or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching practice and observance; and Subsection 3 states that: No person attending any place of education shall be required to receive religious instruction or to take part in or attend any religious ceremony or observance if such instruction ceremony or observance relates to a religion other than his own, or religion not approved by his parent or guardian; while subsection 4 further states that: No religious community or denomination shall be prevented from providing religious instruction for pupils of that community or denomination in any place of education maintained wholly by that community or denomination.”
NSCIA reiterated the position of the court and government that the affected schools belong to and are financed by the Kwara State government.
It further alluded to how a Baptist College in Australia less than two years ago changed its dress code to accommodate students in Hijab.
“It therefore beats imagination that CAN can be so blinded by Islamophobia as to promote anarchy in the land by denying willing Muslim girls the right to hijab in state-funded schools in Ilorin of all towns, repaying the tolerance of the Muslim hosts with intolerance! Even in the West, willing school girls and professionals are accorded their rights to hijab and a Baptist College in Australia less than two years ago changed its dress code to accommodate its Hijabi student. However, in Nigeria, CAN leaders appear to practise a different version of Christianity and they undermine democracy by violating the lawful judgements of competent courts of law,” NSCIA posited.