Hijabi Nigerian Muslims Lament Security Harassment

LAGOS – As world Muslims prepare to mark world Hijab day, the Islamic head-wear is facing troubles in Nigeria where Muslim women accused security forces of marginalizing and harassing them over their hijab.

“We wish to remind the Nigerian security institutions that Boko Haram is the enemy and not Muslim hijabis,” Hajia Nimatullah Abdullateef, the national Amirah of Al-Mu’minaat Organization, said at a press conference in preparation for the World Hijab Day, which is celebrated on February 1, PM News reported.

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“Indeed, Boko Haram has used several ingenious garbs and artifacts to camouflage its members and carry out its dastardly and evil attacks, including fruits, vegetables, motor vehicles and even fake army and police uniforms.

“In actual fact, several thousands hijabis have been unfortunate victims of Boko Haram attacks, either as deceased victims or living but shattered IDPs and it would amount to double jeopardy if Nigerian security authorities harass and de-robe chaste Muslim women, who they indeed, are supposed to be protecting from our common enemy, Boko Haram.”

Anti-Hijab tirades have increased recently in Nigeria after President Muhammadu Buhari said that the nation might consider a ban on hijab, if terrorists continue to use women in hijab to bomb innocent citizens.

The comments were vehemently rejected by leaders of Islamic groups; leading to announcement from the President that hijab would not be banned, contrary to his media chat.

Muslim women recalled some ugly incidents of harassment that happened after the suggestion to ban hijab.

“Other government agencies trying to rob the Muslim hijabis their right to freedom of religious expression, by demanding that she expose her ears during image capturing, at the Nigerian Immigration Service and the Federal Road Safety Commission,” Abdullateef said.

“We call on the leadership of these agencies to call their men to order.”

Stressing that “hijab has been, is and will continue to be”, Abdullateef called on Nigerian authorities at all levels to let hijab be.

“As we celebrate the World Hijab Day come 1 February, we implore all lovers of the hijab, Islam and humanity to celebrate the hijab in all and every way they can, especially on social media,” she said.

The World Hijab Day, held for the fourth consecutive year, is the brain child of a New York resident, Nazma Khan, who came up with the idea as a means to foster religious tolerance and understanding.

Suggesting the event, Khan wanted to encourage non-Muslim women to don the hijab and experience it before judging Muslim women.

She also saw the event as a best chance to counteract some of the controversies surrounding why Muslim women choose to wear the hijab.

Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.