LAGOS, Nigeria – A leading Nigerian Islamic body has warned against the continuous harassment of Muslim girls who choose to wear hijab in school, describing this as endangering religious harmony in the West-African country.
“Lagos has a moral duty to protect the Muslim girl child. It is the only path towards peaceful coexistence,” Prof. Ishaq Akintola, director of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) said in a statement on Monday, September 24, Leadership reported.
“It is now clear to everyone that some Lagos teachers have their anti-Muslim agenda. They just hate the sight of Muslims.”
The controversy started at the beginning of the new school year when the principal of Isolo Senior Secondary School, Lagos State, J.O. Sadare, suspended five students for wearing hijab.
MURIC described the principal’s action as overzealous, infantile and condescending.
Moreover, it urged Lagos authorities to protect the rights of Muslim students and their families.
“We have no iota of doubt that the state government is unaware of the actions of these Muslim haters,” Akintola added.
“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 encourage the girl child to realize her full potential, some Lagos teachers are bent on retarding her progress by sending her out of school.”
While calling on Lagos State government to protect the Muslim girl child, MURIC added that “the Muslim girl child is now an endangered species in Lagos State schools as a result of the refusal of the state government to obey the order of a higher court.’’
Isolo school incident is not the first in Lagos. In 2017, six separate cases of discrimination over hijab were recorded by MURIC.
“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,” MURIC said.
Hijab is a mandatory veil worn by adult Muslim women in the presence of any male outside of their immediate family, which usually covers the head and chest.
Nigeria, is the 3rd most populous country in the Muslim World with its nearly 200 million people, according to the current statistical reports.
Islam represents the plurality religion in this West African country by 47.3%, according to official estimates, while the rest percentage is shared between Christianity and over ten other faiths.