Measuring Media Reactions to Firdaus Amasa’s Hijab Call to Bar Story

Barrister Firdaus Amasa (M), after being called to ba on Tuesday in Abuja

Surprisingly, the Firdaus Amasa Hijab victory, which was received with joy by all lovers of truth and haters of oppression – Muslims and Christians alike – did not make the cover of the top seven Nigerian newspapers of today, Wednesday, July 11.

The newspapers are The Punch, The Guardian, Vanguard, The Nation, Daily Sun, Daily Trust and ThisDay. Following the development, a public affairs analyst, Dr Joe Abah tweeted thus:
“Congratulations to Amasa Firdaus who has now been called to the Nigerian Bar with her Hijab. I am proud to have stood on the side of honour in her case. I am proud that I don’t bay with the mob or run with the herd. The truth will always prevail.”
Firdaus was among the 1,562 successful candidates that were called to bar at the July 2018 Call to Bar ceremony held at International Conference Centre, Abuja.
Amasa, a University of Ilorin law graduate, was denied being called to bar in December 2017 for her refusal to remove her Hijab, a mandatory attire for every mature Muslim lady.
The denial, considered as unjust by many, sparked controversy and attracted local and international media, with different headlines.
Unlike the denial story which went viral and dominated the media for weeks, the Council of Legal Education’s decision to call Firdaus Amasa to bar with her Hijab on yesterday didn’t make today’s covers of major Nigerian newspapers.
Amasa’s story was conspicuously missing on the covers of The Punch, The Guardian, ThisDay, Daily Sun, Vanguard, The Nation and Daily Trust.
Checks by TherenaissanceNG showed that The Punch, Daily Sun and Vanguard didn’t feature the story at all, not even in their inside pages. The Nation only reported that “Law School graduates 1562″, quoting the News Agency of Nigeria.
We are not sure if The Guardian, ThisDay and Daily Trust featured the Firdaus story in their inside pages but obviously, it had no mention on their cover pages.
However, only Nigerian Tribune and New Telegraph found it worthy to give the Firdaus story a cover mention, beneath their nameplates, with headlines; “Law School calls Firdaus Amasa, 1561 others to bar” and “Hijab-wearing lady, 1561 candidates called to bar” respectively.
Nigerian Muslims are however not surprised about the development, as many of them took to social media (Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp) to rejoice with Firdaus Amasa, whom they have described as a courageous fighter for justice.
When contacted on this development, a veteran journalist, Elder Adeyinka T Salaam responded thus: “No rational daily or media outfit whatsoever should have ignored a story of such prominence, with local and international significance.
This is one story that has forced a team of lawyers who claimed to be defending the sanctity of the law profession to the law court. This is also the same story that has brought the judiciary and the National Assembly into collision, thereby preventing the House of Representatives from holding a public hearing.
“Except blinded by rapacious bigotry and corrosive sentiments, what else would have determined the news judgment of an editor when a volatile story that had practically pitched Muslims and Christians against each other is resolved in a unique way, dousing the tension all the way.
“This is an incident that has attracted the attention of international media outfits and threatened to further polarise us in an already fragile nation.
“More so, if Amasa’s story that had virtually turned Nigeria’s legal profession into a laughing stock internationally got resolved in such a manner, it is only logical that the same fervour, vigour and zeal displayed during the Hijab denial, the court case and the public hearing should equally be displayed here.
“But come to think of it, why must Nigerian media always blind themselves to success stories and why are we always quick to propagate and spread evil, violence and negative stories. This development calls for serious rethink and urgent action by the leaders of this noble profession, before its image is dented irretrievably in the eyes of the public”, he said.
In his reaction, the Lagos State Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Dr Qasim Akinreti said the fact that some major newspapers didn’t give the story prominence on their covers is inconsequential.
According to him, “A news is a news. A story is a story. Even if it is a 2-paragraph story. Once it has been highlighted, the mission is actualised. If you Google Firdaus Amasa’s call to bar story, you would surely see considerable results. Her picture in the Hijab would also appear. That alone is an achievement. I am fulfilled.”
The multi-media journalism lecturer said Muslims should understand media dynamism, adding that, “At the time the Amasa story broke, the media already had other newsworthy items, mostly for their cover pages. Don’t get me wrong, Amasa’s story is also newsworthy, but it is the newspaper that would determine which story would lead the paper.”
Akinreti commended the broadcast media for their objective reporting of Firdaus’ Call to Bar ceremony.
He said: “The broadcast media did a wonderful job. It was the major headline of Channels TV and TVC, and Firdaus’ face in the Hijab was prominent. That to me alone has taken the shine off others, including the mainstream media.”
He concluded by urging Muslims to invest more in the media.
By Rasheed Abubakar: rawshield123@gmail.com
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