By Yusuf Jimoh Aweda
We urge the Lagos State Government to read the news of an adorable visit of Michelle Obama to Mulberry School for Girls in East London on the Tuesday, June 16, 2015. They may notice the tens of young Muslims girls looking stunningly gorgeous and respectful in their hijab.
We need to point out to the state government that Mulberry is NOT a Muslim school. The current head teacher is Vanessa Ogden, who is also not a Muslim.
In 2006, Mulberry school was designated a specialist school for the Arts in English, Media and the Expressive Arts. It is obviously NOT a Center of Arabic Studies nor an Islamic School.
The school is a secular school, funded by the government. They find it worthy and appropriate for Muslim girls to use their hijabs during school hours without seeking permission from anyone.
We equally want the government to scrupulously discern the smiles on the faces of the students, the tranquillity and the complete freedom of expression of religious rights in the school.
The general public may know that Lagos State Government has banned the use of hijab during school hours in secondary schools in the last administration headed by Gov. Raji Fashola, despite the provision in the Nigerian Constitution that accommodates the physical expression of one’s religious beliefs.
Lagos State Government during Fashola’s regime, witnessed lots of criticisms for not respecting a simple and important part of the identity of the Muslim girls.
Few months ago, the Center For Human Rectitude called the attention of the state government to revisit its disrespectful decision against the Muslim identity on the hijab ban in the state secondary schools.
The story of an Harvard graduate, Saheela Ibrahim, who was honoured by the White House in her hijab, was mentioned to draw the governor’s attention to the international respect the hijab. It garnered global academic and professional ambiances.
The Center For Human Rectitude humbly appeals to Gov. Ambode-led Lagos State Government, to revisit the issue and grant the Muslim girls, their right to wear the hijab during school hours in Lagos schools.
We believe in the positive change of the government and we are hopeful the new government under Ambode will listen to the demands of the people.
By granting the use of hijab in secondary schools, that Lagos State can join Ekiti, Oyo and other states in Nigeria, which have inclined themselves with the civilised international communities that have allowed and respected the use of hijab in secondary schools.
Aweda(MCP) is the Director, Center For Human Rectitude