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Hijab bill: MURIC, MSSN tells reps to ignore CAN, traditionalists

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The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) and Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN) have requested the House of Representatives members to disregard the protests of Christians and traditionalists to a bill on hijab.

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and traditionalists had refused the hijab bill, which has reached the second reading in the House of Representatives.

The bill is named, ‘Religious Discrimination (Prohibition, Prevention) Bill 2021’.

According to a statement by CAN’s secretary, Joseph Daramola, declared that enacting wearing of hijab in private schools would cause “trouble that the sponsors of the bill may not be able to handle”.

The Amir, President of MSSN in Lagos State, Miftahudeen Thanni, however, blamed CAN and the position of the traditionalists, requesting members of the House of Representatives to disregard them.

Thanni said, “Muslims have never for once in this country fight against what is due to the Christians and others. Why are they always against Muslims? Why are they always against Muslims? We are not saying hijab should be mandated for everybody, but those who choose to wear it should be allowed without any hindrance.

“We are in this country when a governor built a church for Christians and declared Isese Day public holiday. Muslims didn’t raise any false alarm.

“When they started their agitations and protests against wearing of hijab by willing Muslims in schools, we approached the court as law-abiding citizens. The bill on hijab is also a non-violence means to get the right thing done. But CAN and others have started instigating violence and tension.

“We are not against the Christians and traditionalists getting their rights. They also have no genuine reason to oppose ours other than to cause disunity in the country.

“The House of Representatives must give all necessary attention to the bill and ignore undue pressure. We will resist any attempt to sweep the bill under the carpet through every legal means.

“Though issues of unemployment, insecurity are paramount, this bill if passed will resolve many legal battles and give room for peace.”

In addition, MURIC director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, depicted the opposition of CAN to the freedom bill as traditional and conservative.

He appealed to lawmakers to proceed with the bill as it is not intended for hijab rights alone, stating that the objectives of the bill is to liberate Nigerian workers and women from segregation.

He said, “CAN is not talking about morality, legality and justice in its opposition to the bill. CAN is not interested in whether it is right or wrong. The only thing CAN is interested in is to impose its own whims and caprices on the lawmakers by threatening fire and brimstone.

“CAN refers to missionary schools which were taken over by the Gowon decree of 1974 as ‘our schools’. That is a misnomer. It should be noted that both the Christians and Muslims were fully compensated when government took over their schools.

“CAN is trying to scare the lawmakers. Its statement is full of threats. But we are not bothered. The process must take its due course. Today Britain allows hijab in its schools. Go to Britain and see freedom. American schools allow hijab. Canada, Latin America and the rest of Europe have seen the light. Baptist College in Australia changed its school uniform to accommodate hijab-wearing students in 2019.

“But here in Nigeria, CAN, an ultra-conservative body, wants to drag Nigerians back into darkness after we have seen the light. The hijab bill must go ahead. It is the selfish wish of CAN to monopolise everything, including legislation.”

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