Kenya Hijabi Students Allowed to Return to College

MWINGI – Hijabi Muslim students have been allowed to return to Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC) in Kitui Country after they were barred last Friday, April 27 from entering the educational institution because of hijab, The Star reported.

“We’re aware of what has happened today. We want the issue to be sorted out by the Ministry of Education to avoid the discrimination that we’re seeing,” Yusuf Abdullahi, an official from the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM), told Anadolu Agency.

“We as Muslim leaders won’t remain silent,” he added.

Kenyan Parliament Member of the Mwingi Central district, Gideon Mulyungi, called female Muslim students to return to their classes at Kenya Medical Training College (KMTC) in Kitui County.

The controversy started when Muslim female students at KMTC in the Eastern Province of Kenya had complained they were asked by the administration to change their hijab claiming “hijab is a violation, running against the rules of the college.”

“Why us, yet all female Muslim KMTC students cover their hair?” students’ representative Abdullahi Hassan said.

“Asking us to remove the hijab is a violation of our right,” Hassan said.

The issue over their dress code started last February after a new deputy principal was transferred to the college. The new official insisted the girls won’t sit their exams until they “wear the correct uniform”.

Islam designates hijab as a mandatory aspect for females after reaching the age of puberty.

Repeated Problem

This isn’t the first time that such incident is being reported by Kenya Muslims.

St. Paul Kiwanjani High School in Isiolo County in the Eastern Province filed a petition at the High Court earlier this year to ban Muslim girls from wearing the hijab at school.

Other high schools and colleges have also banned hijab, forcing Muslim students to transfer elsewhere.

Kenya’s High Court previously ruled that students shouldn’t be allowed to wear different attire at school, saying it encouraged religious and status divisions.

But the Court of Appeal later in 2016 overturned the High Court’s verdict and ruled in favor of allowing Muslim girls to wear hijab, saying school rules couldn’t be allowed to suppress one’s belief or right of worship.

The decision by the appeals court isn’t final and can be appealed again at the High Court by any aggrieved party.

Islam started to have contact with Kenya through Muslim traders during the 8th century. Based on different estimates from various statistical sources, Muslims in Kenya currently range between 11.1% and 35%. The majority of them concentrate at the Swahili Coast in southeast Kenya around Mombasa.

These estimates don’t include the four million Muslim Somalis living in the Somali province of Gobolka Woqooyi Bari which is occupied by Kenya since 1967 during Shifta War.