This is the official blog of the Nigeria-based Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), a human rights organization which promotes, protects and projects the rights of Muslims. This group condemns terrorism and all acts of violence. Its motto is 'Dialogue, Not Violence'
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
REACTION TO PRESIDENTIAL MEDIA CHAT: BANNING HIJAB IS ESCAPIST, SCAPEGOATISM
30th December 2015,
PRESIDENTIAL MEDIA CHAT:
BANNING HIJAB IS ESCAPIST, SCAPEGOATISM
President Muhammadu Buhari this evening
hosted media executives to a presidential media chat. The president hinted on
the possibility of imposing a ban on hijab in the near future if the bombings
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)
rejects any idea of imposing a ban on hijab. It is escapist. It is
scapegoatism. It will open the floodgates of anarchy. Instead of solving
Nigeria’s security problems, it is most likely to compound it.
If army and police uniforms are not banned
although they are often used by bandits, why should we ban hijab? Security
agents know how they often fish out hoodlums who use police and soldiers’
uniforms to commit atrocities. The same method should be used to prevent the
use of hijab for bombing.
What crime have Nigerian Muslim women
committed that they should be derobed in public?Without their hijab, Muslim women feel as if
they are naked.
Users of hijab are in all walks of life. They are civil servants, business
women, teachers, etc. Most importantly, they are tax payers and voters. They
voted Buhari into power. Is Buhari’s government warming up to encroach on
Allah-given fundamental rights of Muslim women? Is this an appropriate pay-back?
Another dimension in the idea of
banning hijab is the geographical area likely to be involved in the ban? Will it be limited to the three troubled
states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe? Will it extend to the whole North East or
will the ban cover the whole of Nigeria?
The question also arises, Mr. President,
if you ban hijab, what is the time frame? When will you deban it?Are we not
likely to experience more religious upheavals after the ban as some religious
zealots will want to capitalize on the ban by maltreating Muslim women? Will
these religious fanatics who use the period of the ban to oppress Muslim women
stop their repression even after hijab has been de-proscribed?
Has President Buhari pondered over the impact
of the imposition of a state of emergency on those three states by the past
administration? Did it stop insurgency? We posit that Boko Haram handlers will
simply shift to other methods to conduct their nefarious activities. Already
they have introduced suicide bombing by children. Is Buhari going to ban
children from going out to the streets?
MURIC appreciates Mr. President’s
dilemma. We understand that Boko Haram must be defeated. But Muslim women must
not be the scape goats.Nigerian Muslims will not succumb to a policy that dehumanizes their
mothers, wives, daughters and sisters. Banning hijab tantamounts to institutionalizing
the stereotyping of Muslim women. This is unacceptable.
Hijab is more than a covering for
female Muslims. It is a unique identity for Muslim women. It is a mark of
dignity and a symbol of piety. Hijab is an integral part of Islam, a microcosm
in a macro. Whoever bans hijab has fired a shot at the religion of Islam. We
therefore advise Mr. President to tread softly.
Hijab also represents chastity and innocence. By
banning hijab, Nigeria will be pronouncing its hypocrisy to the international
community as a country which claims to be fighting HIV and AIDS yet it has
failed to protect chastity and innocence. Whoever bans hijab has given unbridled
licence to indecent dressing among women, its attendant sexual licenciousness and
the exposure of society to its aftereffects.
Buhari and his security chiefs must therefore
find other means of stopping the bombings. They should leave Muslim women alone. Nigeria’s security agencies
must sit up and device other means. There must be new initiatives and fresh
ideas. Armchair crime-fighting is an anachronism. They must not use Muslim
women as scapegoats. They must step up their intelligence gathering gimmicks.
On a final note, we opine that banning
hijab will be a mark of victory for Boko Haram. The insurgents will celebrate
their success in causing so much confusion and such wide division between the
government and its Muslim citizenry.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)