By; AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has kicked against the action of Mrs. J.O. Sadare, principal of Isolo Senior Secondary School who suspended five female Muslim students on Friday 13th September, 2018 for wearing hijab. MURIC described the principal’s action as overzealous, infantile and condescending, warning that such could lead to crisis.
MURIC’s reaction is contained in a press statement signed by its director and founder, Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Monday, 24th September, 2018. According to the human rights organization, Mrs. Shadare’s action is a manifestation of acrobatic religiousity.
“It is now clear to everyone that some Lagos teachers have their anti-Muslim agenda. They just hate the sight of Muslims. We have no iota of doubt that the state government is unaware of the actions of these Muslim haters. The sad thing is that such teachers are tarnishing the image of the state government by their actions. It is quite disappointing that when the whole world is trying to ecourage the girl child to realize her full potential, some Lagos teachers are bent on retarding her progress by sending her out of school. We therefore call on Lagos State Government to protect the Muslim girl child.
“Like Leah Sharibu and the Chibok girls, female Muslim students in Lagos are in captivity. They are not free to ‘manifest’ their faith as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Their parents watch helplessly as their daughters are derobed and molested in public. There have been instances when Christian teachers go to the extent of beating up female Muslim students in hijab inside commercial vehicles and on the streets. The Muslim girl child is now an endangered specie in Lagos State schools as a result of the refusal of the state government to obey the order of a higher court.
“Apart from the Isolo incident, there have been six different instances where Allah-given fundamental rights of female Muslim students were violated in Lagos schools. All the six instances occurred in 2017 alone. This is apart from those reported earlier and those that were not reported. We have the names of the teachers involved in the six cases. We also know their schools. The records are in the cooler for appropriate legal action at a future date.
“Those claiming that there is religious tolerance in the South West can now see the fallacy in that claim. The reality is that Muslims are at the receiving end and the peace of the graveyard which the region is enjoying now is due to the uncommon resilience and astounding forbearance of Muslims.
“It is true to some extent that Christians and Muslims live together peacefully in Yorubaland. They even live in the same houses without fighting. But that is only because they know one another individually. A different scenario plays itself out when they face religious matters in their communities or in their states. Christians bitterly oppose the requests of Muslims and they flagrantly violate the rights of the latter.
“The same Christian neighbour or fellow tenant who plays and jokes with his Muslim co-tenant is the same man who will snatch the hijab of a female Muslim student from her head when he gets to the school where he is a teacher. He is the same man who will vehemently and viciously attack the idea of Islamic banking or disallow the Muslim staff under him from going for Jum’ah prayer.
“Analysed further, this means that the perceived friendship and tolerance among Christians and Muslims in the South West exist only among individuals who know themselves but there is bitter enemity on institutional matters. It is only on the surface. There is a wide gulf between them when issues affect Muslims generally. Examples are the hijab affair, the Friday question, Islamic banking, Shari’ah, etc.
“The reaction of Christians in the State of Osun when the state government approved the use of hijab in public schools after a court of competent jurisdiction ruled in favour of hijab is a good example. The state branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) ordered Christian students to wear church garments like choir dresses to school. There was pandemonium. It is therefore our considered opinion that the South West is sitting on a keg of gunpowder for so long as Muslims are denied their civil rights.
“The best advice we can give Lagos State now is to allow sleeping dogs to lie. Stop stirring the hornet’s nest. Let the Muslims go. The issue of hijab in particular has gone viral. It is now a matter of serious international concern. Advanced democracies of the world like Britain, Germany and the United States allow Muslims to use it in school. In the South West, Osun, Ekiti, Oyo and Ogun have approved it. It remains Lagos and Ondo alone. What is the ‘center of excellence’ waiting for? Should the ‘center of excellence’ be the last to dish out a dividend of democracy?
“As we round up, we warn teachers and principals not to export their religious gymnastics to public schools. Lagos State government should respect the decision of the Court of Appeal. That is the path of honour. Lagos as the center of excellence should walk its talk. Lagos has a moral duty to protect the Muslim girl child. It is the only path towards peaceful coexistence.
“Lagos authorities should not wait until Muslim students and their parents mobilize to schools where their daughters are abused, stigmatized and traumatized. The continuous harassment of the Muslim girl child over hijab is a serious threat to public peace, a cog in the wheel of democracy, a drag on global best practices and a dent on the efforts of the state government to engender religious harmony”.