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'
Monday, June 27, 2016
HIJAB SAGA: CIVIL SOCIETY MUST SPEAK UP
27th June, 2016,
HIJAB SAGA: CIVIL
SOCIETY MUST SPEAK UP
War drums are currently being beaten in the State of Osun over
the June 13, 2016 pro-hijab court pronouncement. Both the Osun State chapter of
the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Islamic scholars in the
state are at logger-heads. Egged on by Osun CAN, Christian students have worn
church garments to school while Islamic scholars have invaded Osun schools to
enforce the court judgement.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is deeply perturbed by
the silence of civil society on events going on in the state. It is well known
that the assertion of civil liberties is a dividend of democracy and the hijab
issue is indubitably a civil liberty matter. We therefore find it strange that
a vital section that has always been vocal on issues of human rights has chosen
to sit on the fence in a matter that has attracted a Tsunami of reactions in
the print, electronic and social media.
More disturbing is the fact that human rights groups in the
country have never hesitated to pounce on Muslims in general even when it is
glaring that the crime was committed by a single misled Muslim. They fail to
separate the crime from the creed and become Islamophobic instead of singling
out the offender. The loud silence of civil society on this issue makes a
mockery of the whole concept of human rights in Nigeria.
We are particularly shocked by the nonchalance of the
feminists. Where are those who claim to promote the rights of Nigerian women?
Are they telling us that Muslim women are less feminine than their counterparts
in other faiths?
Are they saying Muslim women have no share in women’s
rights? They were quick to condemn early marriage when it involved Muslims and
they claimed at the time that they were defending Nigerian women. Why are they
silent now when a competent court of law granted the prayer of the Muslim woman
to don herself in the veil of decency, the armour of honour and the robe of integrity?
Where are they?
Outspoken and leading lawyers have been
uncharacteristically withdrawn and conspicuously mute. A court of law made a
watershed pronouncement. In contempt of court, a group of people incited civil
disobedience but our lawyers went on sabbatical. The silence of our renowned
lawyers on the hijab judgement in the State of Osun speaks volumes. It shows
that our lawyers find their voices only for Islam-bashing. This cannot augur
well for democracy.
MURIC appeals to civil society to speak up. It cannot
afford to maintain its deafening silence in the face of Amnesty International’s
declaration that hijab is part of human right. The international human rights
agency has authoritatively affirmed that prohibiting hijab “would violate the
rights to freedom of expression and religion of those women who choose to wear
a full face veil as an expression of their religious, cultural, political or
personal identity or beliefs”
The right to use hijab is an inalienable dividend of
democracy. The Muslims must be allowed to enjoy this dividend. A law court decision
is sacrosanct until it is set aside by a higher court. That is what we call the
rule of law, not the rule according to a powerful religious group. Osun CAN slapped
court decision in the face and foremost lawyers stand akimbo. We are
flabbergasted. Is it active involvement, tacit approval or subterranean collaboration?
To round up, we aver that human rights activists must have
the will to call a spade a spade and the courage to separate the wheat from the
chaff no matter whose ox is gored. We must be able to drop primordial
sentiments and hold on to the rope of objectivity. We must ignore a victim’s
ethnicity, religion, or political party to face the oppressor squarely, look
him in the face and tell him the truth. That is when our credibility remains
intact. That is when we will be getting it right.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)