Nigeria: Nigerian Muslim women decry discrimination

1st Feb 2018
Nigeria: Nigerian Muslim women decry discrimination

By Rafiu Ajakaye

 

LAGOS, Nigeria (AA): Nigerian Muslim women on Wednesday called for banning all discriminations against their religious head-covering (Hijab).

“Al-Mu’minaat (an organization of Muslim women in Nigeria) is seeking that legislations be made to specifically criminalize discrimination, harassment, molestation and persecution of Muslim girls and ladies in the religious gear, the Hijab,” Nimatullah Abdul Quadri, president of the group, told a news briefing in Lagos ahead of Feb. 1 commemoration of the annual World Hijab Day.

“Our 2018 theme is ‘My Hijab, My Right’. This theme seeks to remind the (Nigerian) government and our fellow citizens of our religious rights… especially at this time when the hijab is being assaulted and when modesty of covering up is being ridiculed or associated with oppression and backwardness,” she added.

The World Hijab Day, an annual event founded by social activist Nazma Khan in 2013, takes place on Feb. 1 each year in over 140 countries to draw attention to the challenges that the Muslim women face, such as discrimination and harassment, due to the observance of their faith.

Abdul Quadri said this year’s event comes amid rising discriminations against Nigerian Muslim women and girls wearing headscarves, citing recent controversies around the religious wear.

Last October, a Muslim female law graduate Firdaus Amasa was barred from the call to bar event in the capital city Abuja because she insisted on wearing her headscarf, triggering a fresh debate on the issue and prompting the parliament to schedule a public hearing on Feb. 6 to resolve the logjam.

In 2016, the Appeal Court held that wearing the headscarf is within the constitutional right of the Muslim woman or girl, outlawing a government circular which had restricted its use in public schools across Lagos state. The government has appealed the ruling at the Supreme Court.

“Fidaus Amasa’s case has actually made it abundantly clear that the Nigerian nation is not serious about the Girl-child education and giving equal opportunity to all citizens,” according to the women leader.

[Photo: Muslim women offer Eid al-Fitr prayers in Lagos, Nigeria on 17 July 2015. Photographer: Mohammed El-Shamy/AA]

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