By Abdulbaqi Aliyu Jari Katsina – Usmanu Danfodiyo University Constituency.
Another Look at hijab: It was a sad development when I first heard that Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State has banned wearing of hijab (Islamic veil) in all public schools in the state. Being a lawyer and a politician, Fashola is undoubtedly aware of the right to freedom of religion and personal life. If Islamic groups that advocate for Islamic states through arms struggle are labelled extremist then surely what Fashola did must be termed intolerance if not blasphemy taking it from religious angle.
Fashola being a Muslim perhaps knows that wearing hijab by females is mandatory as instructed by Allah in the glorious Koran. Likewise in Christianity, covering of the body is compulsory as can be seen being practiced by nuns.
I was not convinced by the reasons given for banning hijab. Unlike Lagos, in Katsina there is a law that mandates all female students to wear hijab in schools. This is for so many reasons.
Firstly, it instils morality and values in female students, who as mothers in the near future will raise families and societies.
Secondly, studying needs focus, thus mixing of male and female students increases and arouses sexual desires in the students. Indecently dressed students may tempt their male counterparts and teachers alike into sexual illicit acts with them.
Thirdly, the issue of rape is on the increase both at schools and in the larger society. Indecent dressing, nude exposure and even ordinary exposure of body parts of females have been identified as the number one factor of increasing rape cases in schools and in the larger society.
Among other reasons, proper dressing including covering of the body by students is a religious duty, sacred and cannot be toyed with in respect to freedom of religion as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution, as amended.
In Uganda, Saudi Arabia, Iran, for examples, there is a “National Dress Code Law” that checks all forms of indecent dressing. This is because, protecting, advancing, and promoting morality and values is a function of every government in a society.
If for any reason the government thinks of security issues as a reason to ban hijab or anything, the government should find a way of removing that threat without necessarily banning what is right, lawful and humane.
I call on the government to kindly reconsider this issue before it generates any further acrimony.
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