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, July 18, 2016
YORUBA MUSLIMS ARE BEING PERSECUTED
18th July, 2016
YORUBA MUSLIMS ARE BEING PERSECUTED
Sequel to the hijab brouhaha which
broke out recently in the State of Osun and whose dust is yet to settle, the
Lagos headquarters of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has been inundated with
complaints from concerned Muslims in Yorubaland.
It is becoming clear that the areas of
misunderstanding go beyond the issue of use of hijab by students in public schools.
Though the central theme is still hijab, it has extended to persecution,
stigmatization, deprivation and prevention of adult women in hijab from
performing their civic responsibilities and enjoying social services and
amenities provided for all citizens by the government.
Reference has been made to ugly
incidents in public places and the earlier those issues are addressed the
better for peaceful coexistence in the South West. It appears the sub-region is
sitting on a keg of gunpowder and the so called tolerance and peaceful
coexistence in the area is nothing more than a mirage.
of female Yoruba Muslims were disenfranchised during past voters’ registration
exercises for the 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 elections on account of their
use of hijab. They were told the machine could not ‘capture’ their faces if
they wore hijab. Whoever wanted to vote very badly among them had to derobe.
must be noted that it amounts to publicly undressing a Muslim woman when she is
asked to remove her hijab in public. It is dehumanization of the highest order.
Yet those officials did it. We affirm that South West Muslims are facing
organized persecution. We are crying out to the state governments of Lagos,
Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti to do something about it before it becomes open
of other hijab-wearing Yoruba Muslims are still being denied possession of the
national identity card today. They came forward to be photographed but the officials
told them they must remove their hijab. Muslim men were asked to remove their
caps or turbans. Some returned home in despair. Others succumbed out of
frustration and helplessness. The experience of Muslim women in hijab is the
same when they attempt to get international passports. They are asked to remove
hypocrisy in the system becomes glaring and shocking when one finds that
hijab-wearing women face no problem at all when they go for the national
identity card or the international passport in Kano, Sokoto, or any other city
in the North.
why so much hate in the South West? Why is the system applying double standard?
Where is the South West tolerance some people are talking about? It doesn’t exist.
It is a sham, a myth. We must also ask why different rules are being applied
for the same hijab in the same country by the same agency and under the same
Human rights activists will agree that
these are civil liberty matters. We affirm that they are being ignored at our
own peril. Like a people sitting on kegs of gun powder, our actions or
inactions are bound to catch up with us some day. Our democracy remains a fraud
until South West Muslims become free from this kind of stigmatization.
It is common knowledge that, Christian
missions disallow female Muslim children from using hijab because they claim
that they own the schools (which is false of course since all public schools
belong to the government). But were the schools built mainly for the purpose of
discrimination and persecution? This attitude has exposed Christian missions as
groups with a robust appetite for forceful conversion and a strong passion for
the enslavement of fellow Nigerians. These qualities stand in sharp contrast to
the democratic values of liberty and the dignity of the human person.
The passion of Christian missions for
forceful conversion via coercion and intimidation will make Nigeria’s founding
fathers turn in their graves. This cannot be the Nigeria of their dream. We
assert that Muslims deserve the dividends of democracy because people like
Alhaji Ahmadu Bello and Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa took part in the struggle
for Nigeria’s independence. Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola, the hero of modern
democracy, was a foremost Muslim who paid the supreme sacrifice to liberate
Nigerians from military tyranny.
Therefore Muslims should not be pushed
to the background when it comes to sharing the dividends of democracy. The
freedom to use hijab in any public place, including schools, is one of the
dividends of democracy and whoever denies it has committed a crime not only
against womanhood but against humanity as a whole.
Christians always cajole Yoruba Muslims
that they are different from Northern Muslims in terms of tolerance and
peacefulness. But what they are really saying is that they enjoy it when they provoke
or humiliate Yoruba Muslims or when they deprive them of their rights and the
latter still keep quiet and do nothing.
The state governments in the South West
must check the excesses being committed against Muslims in the zone. Nobody
should blame Muslims for resisting oppression if the authorities fail to act. It
is our sincere hope that they will not wait until Muslims start organizing
public demonstrations before they do the needful.
True to the motto of our organization,
‘Dialogue, Not Violence’, we do not issue threats. We believe in dialogue and
civilized behavior. But nobody should underrate the ability of Muslims in
Yorubaland to embark on legitimate and peaceful actions aimed at registering
their displeasure over this modern day slavery.
In conclusion, we call attention to the
danger that lies in frustrating legitimate civil rights demands. It is our hope
that the actualization of our just demands will not be delayed until they are
hijacked by extremist and violent groups who do not share our ideology of
pacific activism. Justice is the soul of peace.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)