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'
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
HIJAB IMBROGLIO: SOYINKA GOOFED
29th June, 2016,
HIJAB IMBROGLIO: SOYINKA GOOFED
Professor Wole Soyinka on
Sunday 26th June 2016 waded into the hijab controversy in the State
of Osun. In an article titled ‘To Everything, Its Place’, the much respected
Nobel Laureate descended heavily on Muslims for daring to seek approval for the
use of hijab.
The Muslim Rights Concern
(MURIC) is fully aware of Soyinka’s great contribution to the attainment of
democratic rule which we are all enjoying in Nigeria today. We also acknowledge
his role in the uplifting of Nigeria’s image particularly in the circle of
Nonetheless, we are
amused that our intellectual guru deployed all the Weapons of Faith Destruction
(WFD) in his arsenal to his Islam-bashing combat field but saw nothing wrong
with the way leaders of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Osun chapter
incited Christian students in their rejection of the court judgemnet which was
favourable to the Muslims.
Nothing was said about
CAN’s gross disrespect for the rule of law. Could he have forgotten that CAN’s
attitude constitutes serious threat to democracy and the rule of law which
Soyinka himself fought hard to enthrone?
Professor Soyinka contended that the issue of hijab was never
raised “for several decades” after independence and assumed that the Christian
uniform is the conventional or, in his own words ‘common dress code’. We beg to
disagree sir. We assert that the revered Nobel Laureate is not only taking too
much for granted but also taking liberty for license.
MURIC affirms that Professor
Soyinka still needs to do his homework very well before going to press.
Contrary to his claim that hijab was not mentioned for decades, Muslims in
Yorubaland have been agitating for civil rights right from independence and the
files of governments at both federal and state levels are full of petitions forwarded
on issues of the Allah-given fundamental rights of Muslims.
Those petitions were
repeatedly submitted on a regular basis by Muslim communities and Islamic
organizations. Of course Soyinka is not expected to know this but it goes to
show the limitations of human knowledge even among nobel laureates.
To assume that the current
school uniform used in public schools should be the dress code is to commit
gross injustice to a large section of the populace. We have heard activists
complaining that the authors of the Nigerian constitution did not consult the
Nigerian people before writing it yet they ‘fraudulently’ claimed that “We, the
The colonialists committed
the same fraud against Nigerian Muslims when they replaced Islamic landmarks
with Christo-British practices and this includes the school uniform. Islam was
in Nigeria for 800 years and in Yorubaland for 200 years before the advent of
Christianity but British sense of fairness could not go beyond uprooting what
it met on ground.
Islamic schools in Lagos
alone were more than fifty by the year 1775 and they used hijab as part of
their uniform. This was long before the arrival of the British in Nigeria and
the advent of Western schools with their Christian school uniform. What was
imposed by colonial fiat cannot be called ‘common dress code’ by any common
Let us reiterate for the
umpteenth time and for the avoidance of doubts that to us as Muslims the
present uniform is Christian uniform unless Soyinka can convince us that the
British were not Christians. Justice, equity and fairness demands that this
should have been revisited immediately after independence.
Yet what the Muslims are
asking for is not more than a slight adjustment from the head to the bosom to
be made of the same stuff and colour with the school uniform. We are not asking
for any different uniform for Muslim students who are males. It is only for the
Professor Wole Soyinka
sir, with all due respect, you are well known for your atheistic propensities
and you do not hide it. We respect you for that. But you cannot sit in
judgement over religious matters since you do not believe in religion. You
cannot give what you do not have. We even expected that you would ask both
Christians and Muslims in Yorubaland to go back to their culture thereby using
‘buba, sokoto, iro, gele and iborun’. MURIC would have welcomed such a suggestion
because all we want is decent dresses for our daughters.
of Nigerian Muslims is legendary. It would have been normal if he had once
taken up the Christian folks but we cannot remember when last he did that. We
also cannot forget so soon how he lampooned the late Dr. Lateef Adegbite (leader
of Yoruba Muslims) severally during his life time. This lopsided trend is quite
disturbing because we see it as deliberate. A little balancing will give more
credibility to our revered Nobel Laureate.
It is high time Professor
Soyinka picked another pastime instead of bullying Muslims. The way Soyinka and
Femi Falana took up the Ese Oruru brouhaha earlier this year was astounding.
The prejudice was crystal clear. Whereas CAN was the first to raise the issue
of religion in the matter by pointing accusing fingers at Nigerian Muslims and
MURIC merely reacted, Soyinka and Falana called a press conference just because
of MURIC. It was an unprecedented albeit unnecessary bullying. They lambasted
MURIC for “turning a personal issue into a religious one”. We simply ignored
the duo at the time to avoid heating up the polity.
On a final note, we
assure Professor Wole Soyinka of our greatest regard for his person. However,
we advise him to commence a balancing reengineering of his views about Muslims.
We are not asking him not to criticize us, but he needs to balance it sometimes
if not all the time. His credibility will be greatly shaken if he continues to
bully and vilify Muslims. If Soyinka really believes in his ‘To
Everything, Its Place’,we most respectfully remind him that ‘To every group,
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)