The Muslims Congress (TMC), a faith-based organisation has criticised the Federal Government and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for allegedly being insensitive to the plight of Muslims being denied of their fundamental right to wear hijab (head covering) my female Muslims in public institutions.
This is contained in a statement signed by the Amir (President) of TMC, Dr Luqman AbdurRaheem, and made available to The Renaissance on Monday in Lagos
“Our attention has been drawn to a recent comment by some officials of the APC-led Federal Government that it would not involve itself in the raging controversy prevalent in schools and other public institutions in some South-west states over the persecution of the Muslim girl-child for wearing the Hijab.
“We are shocked that a government whose jurisdiction covers the length and breadth of Nigeria would choose to abandon the cause of justice for a section of its citizen rather than facilitate same for there to be a sense of belonging, harmony and progress in the country.
“We want to give the benefit of the doubt that such statements had no official support; otherwise, it would have been a case of uncharitable negligence.
“While we wonder what could have prompted such insensitive statements, we remind the makers of such statements that the position of the law in the Hijab case is clear with extant court judgments supporting the Hijab as a right that cannot be alienated by anyone,” the statement read in part.
The organisation stated that it does not want to believe that the Federal Government was lending itself to efforts by some intolerant individuals and institutions to institute a system of apartheid where different laws applied to different segments of the country.
“Why would a girl-child in the north be protected to attend school with hijab and her counterpart in the south is denied same and made to chose between education and abandoning her faith when we all are under the same constitution? Is this how unity and oneness are built in a heterogeneous society?
“For long Muslims of the Southwest have been at the receiving end of the dubious classification of Nigeria as ‘Muslim-North/Christian-South’
, and have been robbed of several opportunities as bona fide citizens, including this renewed enterprise of restricting their access to such public good like education.
“To be emphatic, Muslims are a demographic majority in the Southwest and would not be reduced to second class citizens.
“We remind the federal government that there have been court pronouncements and verdicts that support the rights of the Muslim girl-child and woman to don the hijab in public places.
“What a government that sworn to uphold the constitution ought to do is to give effect to those legal pronouncements by criminalizing the victimisation of hijab by anyone.
“We implore the federal government to intervene in this matter with a view to providing justice where it is due, rather than keep aloof as an uninterested bystander which may call to question its responsibility of uniting the country in its diversity.”
TMC said “Muslims are tired of ‘behind the scene’ bargains and pleas that let off the hook, individuals who misuse public trusts and privileges to deny law-abiding citizens their constitutionally-given rights as happened in the case of Amasa Firdaus, only for new cases to rear their ugly heads as is currently the case at the University of Ibadan International School.
“What the Muslim community in the Southwest expects from the Federal Government is to action the court pronouncements as a way of nipping in the bud the incessant drift of some individuals and organization to cause religious uproar through unconstitutional acts that jeopardize the rights of other citizens.
“We seize this opportunity to remind the Federal Government that hate crimes –which is on the increase in the country – usually start from attempts to construct a ‘worldview’ that excludes a targeted community from the scheme of things and would always attain a full cycle culminating in communal strife when those in authority decide to be uninterested.
“We warn that any attempt to use the privilege of public office to pursue narrow and parochial interests that jeopardize the constitutionally-guaranteed rights of Muslims shall be challenged in court – the last hope of the common man.”
According to the organisation, to refuse to stitch this ongoing persecution in the South-West in time is to allow nine others -that may become difficult to contain – to manifest. A responsible and responsive government at all levels must be sensitive to the plights of its citizens.
“The federal government should act proactively; the time to act is Now
By our correspondent
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