For the umpteenth time, Nigerian Muslims joined millions of women around the world, of all religions and backgrounds, to observe the 11th annual World Hijab Day (WHD) on Wednesday, February 1st with a press conference and other educative and informative programmes to create awareness about the significance of hijab.
Muslim News gathered that Muslim women and their daughters have been faced with different challenges in different countries, including France, Denmark, India, among others.
Some, we reliably gathered are being deprived the use of hijab, while some are subjected to different forms of attacks for using the hijab, Allah’s ordained clothes for the believing women.
In Nigeria, for instance, despite judicial breakthrough, many old and young ladies, especially the students of secondary schools still suffer discrimination in public and private places.
“Hijabophobia is at an all-time high ‘due to the current political climate,’ as a result of which hijab-wearing Muslim women face increasing discrimination in everyday life, the organisers of World Hijab Day said, in a press statement, published by international media.
After today's #WorldHijabDay 2023 press conference organised by 18 Muslim bodies under the aegis of Coalition of Muslim Organisations, some members displayed #MuslimNews #UnapologeticHijabi flyer, saying that all women deserve to be protected from sexual and gender-based violence pic.twitter.com/gexjYyFXm8
— Muslim News Nigeria (@muslimnews_NG) February 1, 2023
“Muslim women are being pressured to remove their hijab to ‘show solidarity’ and make political statements, while parts of the world enact legislation that prevent hijabi women from participating in society,” WHD organisers said, calling on women of all backgrounds to “take a stand against hijabophobia by donning a headscarf” on World Hijab Day, Feb. 1, to help raise awareness of the Muslim tradition and women’s rights.
This year’s theme “Progression, not Oppression”, with the hashtag #Unapologetichijabi saw many Muslim and non-Muslim women sympathisers adorning the hijab unapologetically, as their counterparts in Nigeria held series of events simultaneously in different states of the federation, including Lagos, Ogun, Kwara and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
It saw about eighteen (18) leading Muslim organisations in Nigeria, under the aegis of the coalition of Muslim organisations, united against discrimination and oppression of Muslim women in hijab.
Among them were the Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN Lagos), Hijab Rights Advocacy Initiative, Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN) Lagos State Area Unit, The Criterion, Nasrul-lahi-li Fathi Society of Nigeria (NASFAT), Al-Mu’minaat: The Believing Women Organisation, Muslim Public Affairs Centre (MPAC), Guild of Muslim Professionals (GMP), Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) and Pristine Cactus Foundation.
Others are International Muslim Women Union (IMWU), Pure Heart Islamic Foundation (PHF Lagos), Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria, Islamic Medical Association of Nigeria (IMAN), Akhawat, Izarul Haq Movement of Nigeria, Lagos Secretariat Community Central Mosque (LSCCM) and An-Nujabau Female Forum.
WHD, a global voice against oppression – convener
The convener/Executive Director, Hijab Rights Advocacy Initiative, Barr. Mutiat Orolu-Balogun, said the global movement is a united voice against the criminalisation, discrimination and oppression of Muslim women due to the practice and observance of their religious codes.
“WHD was born 11 years ago and the movement is now being observed in 190 countries around the world, “ she said.
She noted that the theme of this year’s celebration, ‘Progression not Oppression’, was to remind people that hijab was legislated and sanctioned for Muslim women over 1,400 years ago.
Religious tolerance, a must for a peaceful coexistence, says NASFAT
Also speaking at the press conference held at Alausa Secretariat Mosque Hall, Secretary of the Women wing of Lagos Zone 2 of NASFAT, Alhaja Aisha Busari called for an end to bullying of Muslim ladies in hijab, saying that religious tolerance is a must for a peaceful coexistence in every society.
Alhaji Busari decried the moral decadence in the society as she urged collective efforts to uphold the right moral values in the lives of children in the society.
“It is disheartening to know how much the society applauds immorality and frowns at right choices. How women’s empowerment is preached, yet the empowerment and choice of Muslim women are opposed. In this world where the urge to go naked is prevalent, let’s join hands together, school teachers and administrators, leaders of faith, and everyone, to encourage modesty, the use of hijab.
Muslim News gathered that over the years, NASFAT also known as Nasrul-lahi-li Fathi Society of Nigeria, NASFAT, has been collaborating with UNICEF, TOSTAN, among others) to organise programmes and campaigns to end gender-based violence and all forms of discrimination against women and girls.
“Obviously, whoever discriminates against the hijab is not only violating the law and peaceful co-existence but also encouraging violence. Let’s rise against all forms of discrimination against women and girls. Let’s rise against all forms of discrimination against the hijab,” she noted.
All women deserve to be protected from sexual, gender-based violence – FOMWAN
The Federation of Muslim Women’s Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN) raised serious concern over the safety of women in the country, saying that both Muslim and non-Muslims deserve to be protected from sexual and gender-based violence.
FOMWAN, an umbrella body for the Nigerian Muslim women, was making reference to Muslim News’ recent report about a Muslim lady in niqob (veil) attacked and raped by a thug in Ibadan.
The Lagos State Amirah, Alhaja Sherifat Ajagbe said at the press briefing, “It was indeed with heavy hearts and sadness that we received the news that one of our sisters in niqob was raped in Ibadan, Oyo state very recently. While the initial news spoke of the desecration of the mosque as the venue of the attack further investigation has shown that the victim was attacked elsewhere.
“It is sad indeed that Muslim women who are known to be modest have become targets of these criminal elements. Indeed, the hijabi is almost becoming an “endangered species“ as she is being discriminated against by her fellow citizens and she’s also not safe from the attacks of criminals.
FOMWAN Lagos as well as the other 17 participating organisations hereby called on the relevant authorities to prosecute as a matter of urgency the perpetrator of this heinous crime named as Idris a.k.a Kesari as well as his father popularly called Al-Majiri who not only helped the perpetrator to escape, before arrest but also sought to intimidate the victim as well as concerned Nigerians.
The group also spoke about the predicament of Muslim sisters in Ogun state who are being harassed over the use of hijab despite approval from the State government.
According to her, While the League of Imams and Alfas as well as other organisations have provided leadership, guidance and support for students who officially started wearing the hijab on the 9th of January this year, there are still a good number of unresolved cases. We call on the government of Ogun state, to abide by the Supreme Court judgment of 17th June 2022, and also issue a circular to make its definite stance known on the matter.
“We stand in solidarity with all our sisters in Nigeria and indeed the whole world who are facing persecution due to upholding their rights to freedom of thought , conscience and religion. We say to you “Do not fear! Allah is with us”, she noted.
Islamophobia: MPAC warns against discrimination against Muslim women
Speaking at World Hijab Day awareness, Senior Admin Officer, Muslim Public Affairs Commission (MPAC) Nigeria, Hajia Sherifat Sanni noted that the National Identity Management Commission Act of 2007 allowed the standard use of hijab, even during biometric data capturing, saying that telling Muslim women to remove their hijab has no basis.
“We particularly call the sensibilities of all government agencies to the plight of Muslim women when seeking government services, particularly the taking of biometrics. Section 2 of the National Biometric Standards regulation under the National Identity Management Commission Act 2007, mandates all biometric operators whether public or private to conform with these standards. This said law recognizes the use of the hijab in its schedule there to and does not require the ears to be brought out of the hijab,” she said.
— Muslim News Nigeria (@muslimnews_NG) February 1, 2023
Hajia Sanni disclosed that MPAC, an incorporated public service agency working for Muslim defence, empowerment and promotion of individual liberties, receives countless calls from Muslim women who are told to either remove their hijabs or lay their ears bare even when they go for sim registration and urged the operators to desist from such exhibition of ignorance.
She urged all Nigerians to contribute to rid the society of hatred, discrimination and bigotry, saying that in a society where the values of equality, fairness, diversity and inclusion are promoted, everyone is a winner.
We all work together to combat Islamophobia, other vices: Al-Mu’minaat
Al-Mu’minaat, the Believing Women Organisation, in its submission, said there is need for all Muslims to put an end to individualism and unite as group in combating hijabophobia and other menace confronting the ummah.
Lagos State Amirah of the Muslim female organisation, Hajia Bushrah Jubril-Adeagbo also urged all females (daughters/wives/mothers), to live as agents of change, growth as we are all raisers of the next generation.
According to her, “We are meant to protect the environment we live in and make it safe for all living in it. We are to protect that girl child whom Allah has bestowed us with as much as we protect the male child. There is a growing trend of insecurity all over, but the most worrisome is the situation of the girl child.
After denial, Lagos school marks #WHD with Hijab on uniforms
On Feb 1st, for the first time, Muslim students from Herbert Macaulay Girls Senior High School, Sabo, Lagos, didn't only adorn the beautiful red hijabs on their uniforms, but also participated in the #WorldHijabDay '23 pic.twitter.com/qc4No2XR80
— Muslim News Nigeria (@muslimnews_NG) February 2, 2023
“This is because the girl child is the most vulnerable of the human species. It is therefore very important that we do all we can, to protect her. Every little girl you see out there is a prospective wife and a future mother. So, inside that little body resides the future of humanity. Let us make the world safer for her; it is also for us all.
“Mothers especially must not forget their roles in the area of reformation. Let us not subject our children to inhumane treatment in the name of correction/reformation. We should hold the bull by the horn and educate our children (irrespective of the sex) spiritually, morally, academically, physically and socially, so that we can all do the collective work of making the world a safer haven.”
The female group also called on Nigerians to join hands with the government to make Nigeria a safer place to live.
“We should also engage in intentional parenthood and mentoring the younger ones in order to live in a peaceful and better society. The coalition has thus produced thousands of information leaflets on benefits of positive mentoring and navigating life as a muslim teenager among other topics for distribution in commemoration of the World Hijab Day 2023,” she added.
Wearing hijab benefits society at large – The Criterion
The Criterion, an organisation of Muslim women in business and profession, said wearing of the hijab has significant benefits to the society at large, adding that it makes the wearer honorable, respectable, chaste and modest with expected high level of morals.
Assistant Welfare Secretary, The Criterion, Lagos District, Modinat Braimah noted that the Muslim woman dressing does not oppress Muslim women or any other woman for that matter as the media wants to portray it.
“It is not a political tool or a fashion statement. It is the dignity of the human person of a Muslim woman as guaranteed by the constitution of our dear country Nigeria”, she added.
Izharul-Haq Movement warns against attack on the future of children
“It will also be important to state that there seem to be a deliberate attack on the future of hijabis, especially students in secondary school registering for external exams such as West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), said Hajia Toyyibah Ajani Abdul Quadri, the Assistant Secretary, Izharul-Haq Movement of Nigeria.
The group argued that the laws regulating biometrics in Nigeria allows a candidate’s biometric information to be captured with the hijab, provided the full face is shown and without uncovering the ears.
She, however, said despite the laws, some mischievous elements still force the children to remove their hijabs before they can be registered for the exam.
“We call on all exam bodies to do more in protecting the accuracy and integrity of their registration process and ensure that no laws are broken by their agents”, she added.
WHD was founded in 2013 in New York by Bangladeshi-American woman, Nazma Khan to encourage women of all religions and backgrounds to wear and experience the hijab for a day and to educate and spread awareness on why the hijab is worn.
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