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Nigerian lawmakers to probe law school’s hijab ban

26th Jan 2018

Elham Asaad Buaras

Nigeria’s House of Representatives has called for a probe into a law school’s hijab ban. The motion announcement was made hours after Muslim groups threatened a mass protest and legal action over the incident.

A law graduate was refused entry into the hall of the bar ceremony in the Nigerian capital after she insisted on her head covering under the official wig.

Amasa Abdulsalam Firdaus, who graduated from the University of Ilorin, was denied entry to the hall, on December 12. She refused to remove her hijab, insisting instead on wearing the wig on top of her headscarf.

Officials at the Abuja-based law school say the hijab is against the university’s dress code.

Amasa described the ban as “a violation of her right to freedom of religion”, which is protected by Section 38 of the 1999 Constitution of Nigerian.

The Nigeria Association of Muslim Law Students (NAMLAS) was the first to condemn the ban describing it as unconstitutional and a violation of her fundamental human rights.

Among the many Muslim groups who came out in support of Firdaus are Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria, MMPN; Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria, Federation of Muslim Women Association in Nigeria, Abuja Muslim Forum and Obafemi Awolowo University Muslim Graduates Association.

Jameel Muhammad, President of Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, said the restriction on the use of hijab as “Islamophobia” and vowed to advocate for Firdaus.

“We are Nigerian citizens and we are entitled to our fundamental human rights which include freedom of religion and worship”, said Muhammad. Adding, “If my religion demands something from me and I am not contravening any law of a country, I see no reason why they should trample upon fundamental, God-given and constitutional right given to me by my country,”

President of MMPN, Abdur-Rahman Balogun, said, “Her refusal to be called to the Bar is an infringement on her fundamental human right.”

“One is not sure of what is the Nigerian Law School and the Council of Legal Education are afraid of. The world is moving away from that rigid thinking and leaving Nigeria behind as wig on hijab is allowed in countries like the US, UK and Kenya to mention just a few.

“It is our belief that female lawyers in Nigeria, like their counterparts in other advanced countries, should be allowed to dress properly in accordance with their belief,” Balogun said.

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