MURIC reacts as Lagos govt approves use of hijab in schools

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The Lagos State Government has approved the use of hijab in its public secondary schools, stressing however that the hijab to be worn by students must be short, smart, neat and be of the same colour with their uniform skirt.

The Muslim faithful had been agitating the use of hijabs in public secondary schools in the state, but the Lagos State Government had bluntly refused.

The Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, MSSN, had gone to court to challenge government’s decision to ban hijab in schools and lost at the Lagos High Court.

The MSSN appealed the case at the Appeal Court and won but the Lagos State Government went to the Supreme Court to challenge the ruling at the Appeal Court. The case is still at the Supreme Court until the government decided to approved the use of hijab in schools; pending the determination of the case at the apex court. The approval was contained in a circular issued by the Lagos State Government granting the use of hijab in schools.

But a November 13 circular, which was signed by O.A. Olukoya conveyed the Lagos government’s approval of the outcome /recommendations of the panel on the use of hijab.

“Since the case of the use of hijab in Lagos state is still pending in the Supreme Court, status quo should be maintained to avoid contempt of court, that is, students should be allowed to wear hijabs on school uniforms but same must be short, smart and neat and in colour of the school uniform (skirt). Furthermore, schools management are advised to downplay comments and disciplinary actions on the use of smart hijabs until the final determination of the case by Supreme Court. No student should be discriminated against, in any form, on the basis of religion.

“All principals and teachers must be sensitised to comply accordingly. You are enjoined to adhere strictly to these recommendations,” the circular read.

Meanwhile, the Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC,  on Wednesday commended the approval of the use of Hijab by female Muslim students in all public schools, urging other states to take cue from the Lagos government.

In a statement by its director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, MURIC said, “Though belated, it is better to be late than never to do it at all. The wind of change is sweeping across the South West and no state government wants to be caught within the camp of reactionaries.

“We call on all government agencies and employers of labour to note this development. It is a monumental decision. The patience exhibited by Lagos Muslims has paid off. A quiet and peaceful revolution is ongoing and it is in the best interest of all men and women of goodwill to join the train before it leaves the station so that they may not be left behind.

“Reports reaching MURIC headquarters say the Tutor General Permanent Secretary (TGPS) of District 6 has also issued a circular directing all school principals within the jurisdiction to allow female Muslim students who wish to use the hijab to do so. We are yet to hear anything from Districts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. We are therefore calling on the remaining five TGPS to follow suit. Delay will imply insurbodination and sabotage of government’s good intention.

“We congratulate the Lagos State chapters of the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN), the Muslim Congress (TMC), the Muslim Teachers Association of Nigeria (MUTAN) and the Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN). We commend them for their steadfastness, patience and forbearance.

“In conclusion, we charge all the Islamic organizations in the state to immediately set up monitoring units for the successful implementation of the state government’s directive.

“Muslim parents should be mobilized to visit schools for the purpose of ensuring compliance. We warn that nobody should take the law into his or her hands. Defaulting principals and recalcitrant teachers should be reported to the nearest office of Islamic organizations.”

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