LAGOS – A government circular in Nigeria’s southwest Lagos state has allowed Muslim girls to wear hijab as part of their school uniform, after months of debating the issue.
The circular called on school administrators and teachers to allow Muslim girls to wear the religious head cover as long as it is “short, smart, neat and in the same color of the uniform,” The Anadolu Agency reported.
“Schools’ managements are advised to downplay comments and disciplinary actions on the use of smart hijabs until the final determination of the case by Supreme Court,” the circular said.
“No student should be discriminated against in any form on the basis of religion,” it added.
The Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN) chief Saheed Ashafa has hailed the development.
“We extol this gesture and the resoluteness of the state government in ensuring that an avoidable strife do not find ways into the peaceful atmosphere being enjoyed in Lagos State,” he said.
“We are pleased with this development because the embarrassing way and manner that our members are being victimized, harassed, punished and denied entrance into their classrooms for wearing hijab would stop.”
In 2014, a Lagos High Court had ruled against the use of hijabs in schools, a judgment that was upturned in 2016 by the Court of Appeal which in a unanimous judgment noted that the ban was discriminatory against Muslim pupils.
Last year, a Muslim law graduate was barred from call to bar event in the capital Abuja, leading to some controversies and legal cases.
On Monday, a school was shut in the country’s premier University of Ibadan in southwest after some Muslim girls appeared in the head covering.
However, dissatisfied with the appellate court’s judgment, the state government took the case to the Supreme Court. It subsequently placed a ban on hijab in August 2018.