A gender advocacy group, Al-Mu’minnat (The Believing Women) has called on Nigerian government to legislate a law to criminalise discrimination, harassment, molestation and persecution of female Muslims for wearing hijab (Headgear)
The Amirah (President) of the group, Hajia Nimatullah AbdulQuadri, made the call at a press briefing on the sixth World Hijab Day celebration billed for Feb. 1 on Wednesday in Lagos.
AbdulQuadri, who is an Assistant Director, Education District II in the Lagos State Ministry of Education, specifically urged the National Assembly “to make laws to protect the rights of Muslim ladies in the hijab in all facets of life, and provide the wherewithal to make it enforceable and justiciable’’.
She said it was saddening to observe that, despite clear provisions of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly that provides for the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
“Muslim women are still being subjected to a lot of persecution, ridicule, oppression and injustice because of their religion.
“To wear the hijab by the Muslim woman is the practical application of these constitutional provisions.
“A sure way to call to anarchy is to jettison the provisions of the law,’’ the Amirah said.
“This isn’t a hidden agenda but an open one for those who want to see, or else why would a Muslim lady in hijab, who has gone through the rigours of the university, the Nigerian Law School and has excelled in character and knowledge be denied her rights to be called to the Nigerian bar.
“Incidences of discriminations, denials, persecutions, profiling, harassments abound, even in public institutions; institutions powered by our taxes,’’ she said.
The group, therefore, seek that legislation is made to specifically criminalise discrimination, harassment, molestation and/or persecutions of Muslim girls and ladies in the religious headgear, the hijab.
“We want laws to protect the rights of the Muslim ladies in the hijab in all facets of life and provide the wherewithal to make it enforceable and justifiable.
“We urged the Supreme Court to expedite action on the Lagos State Government appeal against the ruling of Appeal Court in support of wearing of hijab in government schools.
“We demand that Muslims be seen and treated as complete, free human beings and that full right and recognition as citizens of Nigeria, this country belongs to us all.
“When laws are broken, punitive measures must be meted out to defaulters, if not anarchy will persist,’’ AbduQuadri said.
She then appealed to fellow sisters facing persecutions and discriminations, due to their use of the hijab, to remain calm.
“Justice is nigh. You are on the right path, the persecutors and those discriminating against you are wrong before man and Allah, Our Lord and Benefactor.’’
AUDIO CLIP OF THE AMIRAH
On the occasion of the World Hijab Day (WHD), she said the theme for 2018 was “My Hijab, My Right”.
According to her, the theme seeks to remind the government, as well as our fellow citizens, of Muslim women’s religious rights regarding the constitutional provisions, “especially at this time that the hijab is being assaulted and when modesty of covering up is being ridiculed or associated with oppression and backward’’.
She said the WHD is an annual event, founded by Nazma Khan in 2013 and that the event takes place on Feb. 1 every year in about 100 countries worldwide.
“It was borne out of the challenges that the Muslim woman faces such as discrimination and harassment, due to the observance of her faith.
“From the continuous denial of the right to wear hijab to school girls; to the insistence of institutions that the ears of Hijabis be exposed during data capture; to Firdaus Amasa denial of being called to bar.
The group commended the House of Representatives for wading into the Firdaus Amasa’s issue, urging them to not only ensure she gets justice but be compensated for the trauma she went through.
“Fidaus Amasa’s case has actually made it clear that the Nigerian nation is not serious about the Girl-child education and giving equal opportunity to all citizens.
“It is telling us that education is not to get those who chose to be Muslims and express their being so.
“After all, in the Nigerian constitution as we have it today still recognises and protect religions and religious practices and expressions.’’
According to Al-Mu’minnat, hijab is a religious duty, enjoined upon the Muslim woman by God as stated in the Glorious Qur’an, Chapter 24:31 and 33:59.
The group leader said that hijab “is NOT the culture of Arabs as some would want to make us believe or a fashion accessory that one may discard at will.
“It is a religious duty and an obligation on every Muslim woman in the observance of her faith’’.
By Our Correspondent