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The controversy over the use of hijab by Muslim students may have been rested temporarily pending the final verdict of the Supreme Court as the Lagos State Government approves the use of hijab (head and body covering for females) in public schools in the state.
The approval was contained in a circular by the state government and shaared by the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN) which had championed the use of hijabs and celebrated the decision.
“Since the case of the use of Hijab in Lagos State is still pending in the Supreme court of Nigeria, status quo be maintained, to avoid contempt of the court, that is students be allowed to wear Hijabs on school uniforms but same must be short, smart, neat and in the same colour of the uniform (skirt),” the government was quoted as saying in the circular.
The Muslim group has since commended the state government for the decision to tow the path of honour after the recent shut down at the international school of the University of Ibadan, Oyo State following the attempt to stop female students from wearing hijab in school,
This was contained in a press statement by the Amir (president) of the MSSN Lagos, Saheed Ashafa, reacting to a circular recently issued by the Lagos State Government granting the use of hijab in schools as an outcome/recommendations of the panel on the use of hijab..
The President MSSN maintained that the circular would help to stop harassment and victimisation of female Muslim students for wearing hijab.
He said: “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.
“We are pleased with this development because the embarrassing way and manner that our members are being victimised, harassed, punished and denied entrance into their classrooms for wearing hijab would stop.
“We have constantly told the state government that while a case on the hijab is awaiting final verdict at the Supreme Court, no teacher has the right to punish female pupils for wearing hijab. The Appeal Court in the case clearly states that wearing hijab by students, whether within or outside the school premises was a fundamental Human Right entrenched in the constitution.
“It is important to notify you that we will not allow further lawlessness and flagrant disregard for rule of law to stay after this circular. The circular would also help to stop the abuse of rights which could have degenerated into crisis or violence that may lead to the disruption of activities in schools in our dear state.
“We commend this intervention aimed at calling teachers, principals and tutor general to order. This circular approving wearing of hijab by students on their school uniform within and outside school premises, will ensure peace and order in our schools and stability in the state’s education system.”
“We hereby call on female muslim students to enjoy their rights without fear of molestation. While exhibiting their rights, they should remain law abiding and be good ambassadors of the religion of peace,” he added.
You may recall that despite the Appeal Court judgement, female Muslim students were punished and denied entrance into classrooms for putting on the hijab in Lagos state.
Meannwhile the Principals and teachers in the Lagos school system were advised to adhere to these recommendations and never to discriminate against the muslim female students on the basis of religion pending the decision of supreme court.