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18th November, 2018
PRESS RELEASE: THE ISI HIJAB IMPASSE: NO COMPROMISE
The Federation of Muslim Women’s Associations in Nigeria (FOMWAN) observes with rude shock the callous manner in which eight Muslim female students of the International School, Ibadan, a staff school of the University of Ibadan were shut out of the school gate on 15th November 2018. Their only “crime” was that they wore a head cover called hijab, which the school regards as a violation of school regulations.
By so doing, and ironically too, the school management has flagrantly violated several rights of these innocent girls. First, the school management has trampled on their fundamental human right of religious practice, a right that has been so guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution in Section 38 (1) of the 1999 Constitution. Which supersedes the other: the school regulations or the Constitutional provisions???
Secondly, the children’s rights to education have been denied, and by extension, their hopes and developmental aspirations dashed. Nigeria still battles with over 13Million out of school children as we speak today. 60% of them are girls who have remained out of school because parents are apprehensive about the system. This incident has in no small measure confirmed the fears of those parents, that the loss of religious freedom is a price that your girls may have to pay to acquire education. This means turning back the hand of the clock for many girls. It is loss to the Sustainable Development Goal 4 of bridging gender inequality.
Thirdly, the right of those girls to dignity as human beings was grossly abused. The humiliation of being locked out of school for no offence will linger in their minds for the rest of their lives. They remain at the mercy of their colleagues who may taunt them for as long as they remain students in that school. The psychological trauma of this incident cannot be quantified.
All this humiliation, for just wearing the hijab? Innocent girls put to shame for daring to carry out the injunctions of Allah, the Creator of the Universe? Ridiculous indeed!!!
For FOMWAN and all Muslim Mothers in Nigeria, this is an affront with grave implications. It simply means that Muslim parents, especially Mothers can no longer entrust our daughters into the care of the management of this school. This is because our belief and expectation that the school will complement our efforts at bringing up morally sound and academically proficient students have been dealt a fatal blow by this incident.
We can no longer trust the school if it can so blatantly rebuff our efforts to raise girls with decency as required by both the Bible and the Qur’an. Instructing the Christians in Corinth to flee from sexual immorality, the apostle Paul reminded them, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit…..Therefore honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). For Muslims the hijab is meant to protect from all indecencies.

We make bold to say that on matters of faith there is no compromise especially in a world where inclusivity is being advocated. FOMWAN therefore demands the recall of the eight girls back to school with their hijab with no conditionality. We also call on the school management to ensure that no girl is molested by either teacher or peer as an aftermath of this incident. We are concerned that this incident has polarized the school and the management in collaboration with the PTA definitely need to put in place programmes that will bridge this gap between Muslims and Students of other faith to ensure that the youth live with tolerance, mutual understanding, respect and religious harmony.
We commend the Lagos State Government for its recent action in allowing the use of hijab by Muslim Students thus promoting respect for the rights of Muslims. We call on all Muslims to be calm and law abiding as we explore peaceful means of resolving the issues.

Halima Jibril(National Amirah) Dr Sumaye Hamza(National PRO)

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