Wednesday, May 15, 2013


16th May, 2013
The Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Olayinka Oladunjoye, in a press conference addressed on Tuesday, 14th May, 2013 placed a ban on the use of hijab and head scarf by female Muslim pupils in public schools in Lagos State. She stated that such Islamic attires would only be allowed "when the pupils want to go for prayers, when they want to read the Qur'an and when they want to go for Jumat prayers."
We of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) reject this position. It is a product of intolerance, tyranny, oppression, persecution and stigmatization. The rejection of the use of hijab in public schools reveals the pitiable human rights condition to which Muslims in the South-West have been subjected both in colonial and post-colonial days. It also stands in contradistinction to the democratic principles of freedom, equal rights, justice and fair play.
Instead of allowing free dialogue, the Lagos State Government is pushing Muslims in the state to the wall. We reject the claim made by the Commissioner for Education that the issue was discussed at length and that "We reached certain agreements". Concerned and well-informed Muslims and Islamic organizations were either deliberately ignored or edged out of purported discussions while a selected and uninformed few were picked. MURIC petitioned the ministry in a letter dated 25th February 2013, yet we were not invited at any point in time.
We challenge the Commissioner for Education to tell the world who she discussed with. She should also tell Nigerians what happened to all the memoranda submitted on the issue by several Islamic organizations in the state. What became of the 8-page memorandum submitted by MURIC to the State's House of Assembly? It is our contention that a neo-colonial mindset is at play in the Lagos State Ministry of Education.
We also challenge the Commissioner for Education to tell the world what her ministry has done to the principal of Kadara Junior Grammar School, Ebute Metta, Mrs. Ukpaka, who personally administered 43 strokes of the cane on a female Muslim student by name Aisha Alabi, a JSS 2D pupil, whose only offence was wearing hijab. Is this not child abuse? Is this not the height of Islamophobia and religious intolerance tainted with sadism? Instead of taking the law into their hands, the Muslims in the state petitioned the ministry of education. What has the ministry done about this?
The Commissioner's pronouncement that Muslims who want their children to use hijab should take their children to Muslim private schools is a reckless, arrogant and irresponsible statement. It is a declaration of war on Lagos Muslims. Is the commissioner saying that Muslims are not part of the citizenry in Lagos State? Are the Muslims not paying tax? The Commissioner should simply resign if she can no longer play the role assigned her in the ministry. She has demonstrated enough hatred for and arrogance towards Muslims. This statement is insensitive, provocative, outrageous and preposterous. It is an insult on Islamdom in Lagos State. It is therefore unacceptable.
For the avoidance of doubt, the provisions of Article 18 of the United Nations Charter and Articles 9 and 14 of the European Treaty of Human Rights and Articles 18 and 19 of the Treaty of Civil and Political Rights all of which Nigeria is a signatory support the position of Muslims clamouring for the use of hijab. Denial of this agitation also constitutes a breach of Section 38 (i) & (ii) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution.
We challenge the Commissioner to tell the world why the hijab is acceptable on school uniforms for Muslims in the North and an anathema in the South-West when Nigeria is just one country? MURIC warns that Lagos State Government is provoking Muslims in the state. The recent position of the LASG has merely worsened relationship between the Muslims and the state government.
MURIC however affirms that the Muslims will continue to explore all constitutional means to challenge this outrageous declaration on hijab. In spite of the Commissioner's attempt to provoke Muslims in Lagos, we remain committed to the maintenance of law and order in the state. We appeal to Muslims in the state to ignore this provocation and to remain calm and law abiding.
Professor Is-haq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC),
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC),
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Banker's Name: Guaranty Trust Bank
Account Name:        Muslim Rights Concern
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Be just Justice is the soul of peace
No one can deny one and have the other
Neither can violence or naked force bring lasting peace

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