By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan
Crisis is now brewing at the International School, University of Ibadan over alleged prevention of female Muslim students in the school from wearing Hijab (head scarf), by the school principal, Mrs. Phebean Olowe.
Already, the parents of the affected students under the auspices of International School Ibadan Muslim Parents’ Forum have petitioned the Principal for denying the female Muslim students of their right to wear hijab while in school “without any reason.”
The petition was also copied to the Chancellor of University of Ibadan and Sultan of Sokoto, Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, The Chairman, ISI Parents Teachers Association, ISI, Vice – Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Deputy Vice – Chancellor (Academic), University of Ibadan, Registrar, University of Ibadan, Chairman, University of Ibadan Muslim Community, Chief Imam, University of Ibadan Muslim Community, Minister, Federal Ministry of Education among others.
In the petition by the International School Ibadan Muslim Parents’ Forum, signed by their Chairman, Alhaji Abdurrahman Balogun and Secretary, Mrs. Bilikis Badiru, they emphasized that “Hijab wearing for young Muslim girls, apart from the fact that it is part of their religious belief, is part of their God given fundamental human right as well as the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
“On behalf of ISI Muslim Parents Forum we extend our warm greetings to you and other members of the school management. Over the years, the forum has wondered why our willing Muslim girls have not been adorning the head scarf (Hijab) in line with their religious belief just as their counterparts elsewhere do.
Hijab wearing for young Muslim girls, apart from the fact that it is part of their religious belief, is part of their God given fundamental human right as well as the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” they said.
The ISI Muslim Parents Forum added, “part of what distinguishes an institution is the ability to demonstrate a high level of tolerance of the rights of every child, including female Muslim children; one of which is the use of Hijab as desired by their parents, enjoined by their faith (Islam) and also permitted by the Constitution of the Federal Government of Nigeria.”.
According to the parents in the petition entitled “Notification of Muslim parents’ resolution on Hijab for our Muslim girls in ISI ,” there are two Court of Appeal judgments affirming that the use of hijab is a fundamental right in Nigeria under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, hence the management of the institution should desist from denying their wards the right to use Hijab in the school.”
The parents in the petition asked relevant stakeholders to prevail on the principal and Management of the institution to allow the female students to commence the use of Hijab from 2018/2019 academic session, saying, there were brilliant female Muslims students who have refused to come to the institution because of its perceived no Hijab doctrine.
“It is our considered opinion and resolution that the school authority should not disallow or discourage willing Muslim girls who wish to wear uniformed mini hijab to protect their chastity in line with their religious belief. A mini-hijab is a piece of cloth covering the head, side face and neck neatly blended. This is personal and has no effect on other fellow students. Our resolution is premised on the ground, inter alia; that section 38 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guarantees right to freedom of religion including the right to manifest religious belief within the ambit of the law. Using a mini-hijab to cover the head is a manifestation of and a fundamental requirement of our children’s religion.”.
The Parents Forum maintained that, “the fact that a Muslim girl not using the hijab in ISI is a mere tradition (a colonial heritage) without a justification in the school dressing code and That such a tradition cannot override the provision of section 38 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999 CFRN)”, saying,
“moreover, there are two Court of Appeal judgments affirming that the use of hijab is a fundamental right in Nigeria under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”.
“The use of Hijab, for Muslim girls, is now a global phenomenon irrespective of personal or professional callings; students, lawyers, nurses, doctors, security personnel, teachers among others, who willingly adorn it. The Body of Benchers in Nigeria recently endorsed the use of mini-hijab not only at the call to the bar ceremony but also at the Nigeria Law School and indeed in the legal practice. We wish to let you know that there were brilliant female Muslims students who have refused to come to ISI because of its perceived no hijab doctrine. Our children have, up to this time, suffered undue psychological stress due to the fact that their natural mode of dressing has hitherto been denied when in school.
“We are mindful of the need to maintain uniformity and moderation in line with the dress code of the school and have taken appropriate measures to ensure this. This Forum hereby, puts the school management on notice of this resolution on the rights of our female children to commence the use of Hijab from this academic session of 2018/2019. We are ready to shed more light on this resolution should opportunity arise. May ISI grow from strength to strength in peace, unity, fairness and justice. Ameen”.