The victimisation and denial of the Call to Bar to Miss Firdaus Amasa, a Nigerian law graduate from the University of Ilorin, by the Body of Benchers (BOB) over the Hijab in December 2017 came to the front burner during the World Hijab Day, an annual global Hijab awareness program held on Thursday, February 1, 2018.
Prominent Nigerian Muslim groups such as the Federation of Muslim Women’s Associations in Nigeria (FOMWAN), Al- Mu’minaat (The Believing Women) Organisation, Nasrul-Lahi-L-Fatih Society (NASFAT), Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria (MMPN) and the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN) used the auspicious occasion to make a case for the Hijab as they joined their counterparts from over 190 countries to mark the 6th edition of the annual World Hijab Day.
The World Hijab Day was founded in 2013 in the USA by Nazma Khan, a young New Yorker of Bangladeshi origin, after she was severally attacked verbally and physically by her peers and teachers at college because she chose to wear the Hijab.
Rather than keep quiet and allow the assaults against Muslim women to continue, similar to what Nigerian Muslim girl-students are experiencing on a daily basis in public schools, Nazma Khan came up with the non-violent and now widely popular concept to create global awareness, so that “we can coexist irrespective of our faith or race.”
Make a law to protect the rights of Muslim women – Al-Muminaat
At a press conference held at its secretariat in Lagos, Al-Mu’minnat (The Believing Women) called on the Nigerian government to enact a law to criminalise discrimination, harassment, molestation and persecution of female Muslims for wearing the Hijab.
The Amirah (President) of the group, Hajia Nimatullah AbdulQuadri, specifically urged the National Assembly “to make laws to protect the rights of Muslim ladies in the Hijab in all facets of life, and provide the wherewithal to make them enforceable and justiciable”.
The Hijab is a religious duty enjoined upon the Muslim women by Allah (God). In Quran 24:31, Allah says; “And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty, that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (may ordinarily) appear thereof, that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty…”
And in Quran 33:59, Allah says: “O prophet! Tell thy wives and thy daughters as well as other believing women, that they should draw over themselves their outer garments (veils when in public); this will be more conducive to their being recognized (as decent women) and not molested.”
The right to believe in and practise one’s chosen faith is an inalienable right of every human being, and is entrenched in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the statement read.
It is really saddening to observe that, despite the clear provisions of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly and provides for the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, Muslim women are still being subjected to a lot of persecution, ridicule, oppression and injustice because of their religion.
On the denial to call Firdaus Amasa to bar by the Body of Benchers, it is commendable that the House of Representatives has decided to wade into the issue.
We must say that they should not only ensure she gets justice, but also be compensated for the trauma she was forced to go through.
Firdaus Amasa’s case has actually made it abundantly clear that the Nigerian nation is not serious about girl-child education and giving equal opportunity to all citizens.
It tells us that education is not to get to those who choose to be Muslims and express their being so, the statement concluded.
WHD: MMPN calls for tolerance and understanding from Non-Muslims
Similarly, the Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria (MMPN) were not left out, as they rallied support for the WHD 2018 and all Muslim ladies who choose to adorn the Hijab in line with their God-given rights, best global practices and fundamental human rights as enshrined in the Constitution of Nigeria to do so without any hindrance or molestation.
In a statement signed by its National President, Alhaji AbdurRahman Balogun, the MMPN used the occasion to “rally our support for Miss Firdaus Amasa and her colleague Miss Aisha Zubair over the Hijab brouhaha during the December 2017 Nigerian Law School Law Call to Bar ceremony.
While Aisha Zubair was victimised and forced to remove her Hijab, Firdaus refused to remove her Hijab and was subsequently denied being called to bar.
“We hereby reaffirm and we insist that there must be justice for them and others who were discriminated against because of wearing the Hijab.”
The body of Muslim journalists also used the occasion to appreciate the courage of the House of Representatives in instituting a public hearing into the Firdaus Hijab saga, with the hearing slated for February 6.
Alhaji Balogun implored all stakeholders who believe in equity, justice, fairness and equality to attend and share their experiences.
“Lastly, we are calling for tolerance and understanding from our Non-Muslim brethren who detest Muslim women adorning the Hijab, which is in compliance with the commandments of Allah, the Creator of all mankind.
“This is important because many Muslim ladies are subjected to various incidents of ridicule, intimidation, harassment, frustration and even beating by non-tolerant colleagues, bosses, neighbours and officials, especially government officials, because of dressing in line with their faith.”
Despite Hijab victories in court, cases of Hijab assault continue – Hijab Advocacy Initiative
The Firdaus Amasa Hijab saga with the Body of Benchers also came up at the Special Sisters’ Usrah organised by the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN), Lagos State Area Unit. The programme saw in attendance hundreds of Muslim female students from primary, secondary and higher institutions as well as all walks of life.
The Special Usrah, dedicated to the World Hijab Day, was held at the Zumuratul Islamiyyah Central Mosque, Yaba, Lagos.
The guest speaker, Barrister Mutiat Orolu-Balogun of the Hijab Advocacy Initiative group argued that the wearing of the Hijab by Muslim women is the practical application of the relevant constitutional provisions.
According to her, the Court of Appeal has upheld the use of the Hijab as being in consonance with the provisions of Section 38 (1) of the 1999 constitution (as amended), among other legal victories for the Hijab, hence, it is a fundamental human right.
Despite these victories recorded by the Hijab at the courts, Barrister Orolu-Balogun said cases of infringement on the constitutional rights of Muslim women occur almost on a daily basis.
“Amasa Firdaus and Aisha Zubair who were both assaulted by the Body of Benchers in December, 2017 are case studies”, she stated.
“Miss Aisha Olabimpe Zubairu Esq was humiliated, harassed and embarrassed by Nigerian Law School (NLS) staff, who accosted her and demanded she remove her Hijab and drop same on the floor.
Thereafter, the NLS staff severally stamped on the Hijab and directed a security guard close by not to allow Miss Zubairu pick the Hijab from the floor.
“After the ceremony, she had to meet the Head of Academics before her certificate was handed back to her after much reprimand.
“This showed without equivocation that the Law School officers who humiliated, harassed and embarrassed her acted without directive whatsoever by the Body of Benchers as claimed.”
Hajia Orolu also used the occasion of the World Hijab Day to remember those who fought for the cause of justice, spending their time, knowledge and wealth.
She particularly credited the late Chief Gani Adetola-Kaseem SAN, “who defied all odds and negative pressure to stand for the cause of the Hijab. May Allah accept his humble efforts, expand his grave and admit him into paradise, Amin.
“Today and always, we Muslim women call for an amendment to the VIOLENCE AGAINST PERSONS (PROHIBITION) ACT, 2015, to include ‘removing or asking a woman to remove her clothing, including the Hijab’, an offence punishable under the law.
“Today, we Muslim women show that we are indeed strong in Hijab, despite all odds, despite all pressures, despite all injustices. We draw our strength from Allah and He is sufficient as our Protector and Helper.”
MSSN A-Zone marks World Hijab Day
In the same vein, all the 20 Area Units of MSSN A-Zone incorporated the World Hijab Day into their line-up of activities marking their annual “Hijab Week”, with scheduled Press Conferences held on Thursday, February 1st in different States.
The Amir of MSSN, Kaduna State Area Unit, Sabi’u Shitu Bindawa said, on the occasion of the World Hijab Day, that the entire Muslim student bodies in all the 20 Area Units in the North identified with the oppressed Muslim ladies all over the world, stressing that the use of the Hijab is a God-given and constitutional right that cannot be denied.
Mallam Bindawa however noted that unfortunately, this right has been abandoned, misused and abused in some parts of our dear nation, Nigeria.
“Our sisters are being molested, castigated, humiliated and even denied their privileges and rights as identified in the Nigerian Constitution.
Some Government agencies, educational institutions and other bodies are using undue advantage to irritate our Sisters, just because they choose to obey the command of their Lord Almighty.
“We are using this occasion to remind the government at all levels to respect our Muslim women’s right to use the Hijab. Wearing the Hijab is obligatory on all Muslim women as instructed by Allah. The Hijab is their right as Muslims where ever they are.”
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