By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
The principal of the University of Ibadan International School (UIIS), Mrs. Phebean Olowe recently banned the use of hijab by female Muslim students of the school.
The ban provoked Muslim parents who protested at the gates of the school on Monday 12th November, 2018.
In its characteristic intervention, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has described the ban as an invitation to chaos and a threat to girl-child education.
MURIC’s intervention was expressed in a press statement issued on Tuesday 13th November, 2018.
According to MURIC, “Mrs. Phebean Olowe is a failure in administration. She is out of touch with reality. She has failed to properly read the barometer. She is reeling out draconian and anachronistic decrees reminiscent of colonial days. This principal is retarding the progress of UIIS. She can only be an agent of destabilization to have behaved this way. This is the 21st century for crying out loud. Where does she think she is?
“We are surprised that at a time when the whole world is struggling to boost girl-child education and reduce the number of out-of-school children, a female school administrator of her status is issuing anti-girl-child education directives. It is such a shame. Britain and America are encouraging the wearing of hijab in their schools but here we find a school administrator constituting herself into a cog in the wheel of progress particularly in the area of girl-child education. Can this be attributed to lack of exposure? This principal is in dire need of a sabbatical leave outside Nigeria.
“She should have known that UIIS is an elitist academic environment where all the parents (Christians or Muslims) know their rights. Many of the Muslim parents are staff of the university. Why must she chew more than she can swallow? Why must she bring an alien, parochial and archaic agenda to an academic setting? This is obviously a failure in administration.
“A good administrator will consult parents before taking such a sensitive decision and there are a lot of opportunities for her to do that. Religion is a sensitive matter. She must have a hidden agenda otherwise she would not have made such an attempt in view of the proliferation of hijab stories in the news. No school administrator worth the salt will issue an anti-hijab instruction in view of recent events around the country unless such a principal is from Mars or Mercury”.
MURIC commended the parents who participated in the peaceful protest at the school gate. According to Professor Ishaq Akintola, the director of MURIC who signed the press statement, “Peaceful protest is an extention of dialogue where there are grievances to address. It is an Allah-given fundamental right of all citizens. Nobody has the right to take it from us.
“We hail the Muslim parents of UIIS for standing up in loco parentis. These parents have refused to abdicate their responsibilities. They have a duty to educate their children and to monitor their progress as prescribed in Qur’an 2:233. They have successfully done that. They also have a duty to protect their children from abuse, stigma and religious discrimination. They have proved that they are capable of doing that. We are proud of them.
“We are particularly happy with these parents for the peaceful manner in which they conducted their protest. They have proved beyond any iota of doubt that they are true ambassadors of Islam. The adherents of the religion of peace cannot afford to eschew the path of peace. We assure them of our full support. MURIC will keenly monitor the progress of this matter.
“We appeal to the management of the University of Ibadan (UI) to intervene in this matter. It should not be allowed to escalate. UI is a center of academic excellence. The authorities should not allow administrative shenanigans and educational charlatans to turn its International School into a center for religious apartheid. It is high time UIIS realized that Nigerian Muslims have come of age.
“We call on the school principal to face reality. Nigeria belongs to all of us. We should learn to coexist. Muslims will no longer accept a situation whereby everything is designed to suit Christians and Muslims are left to choose between accepting the Christian way of life or abandoning education. The Nigerian school uniform was designed by Christian colonial masters. It is therefore a manifestation of neo-imperialism cum totalitarian dictatorship to force Muslim children to wear Christian uniforms. It smacks of lack of religious tolerance. Mrs. Phebean Olowe should resign if she cannot tolerate the sight of female Muslim children in hijab because she is going to be seeing quite a lot of them these days.
“Finally, we appeal to Muslims in the city of Ibadan and Oyo State in particular as well as all over Nigeria to remain calm and law abiding. We should give the UI management the benefit of doubt and the opportunity to wade into the matter.
However, all Muslim parents are advised to remain alert because eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Aluta continuabecause it is not yet Uhuru”.