The Muslim Public Affairs Centre (MPAC), Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN) and the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has expressed concern over President Muhammadu Buhari’s comment that he would consider banning the Hijab (Muslim headscarf) if the Boko Haram bombing campaigns continue.
In separate statements Thursday MPAC Executive Chairman Disu Kamor, Amir (President) of MSSN Lagos State Area Unit, Mallam Saheed Ashafa, and Director of MURIC Prof. Ishaq Akintola insisted that the hijab apart from being a fundamental human and constitutional rights of Muslim women is also cardinal aspect of Islam which cannot be denied Muslims.
Kamor said the argument that religious profiling will enhance counter-terrorism efforts is manifestly flawed and counter-productive as those who call on the government to stop Muslim women from fulfilling one of their religious obligations are stuck in a constrained model of thinking.
“The purported rationale for the call to ban hijab is that once the hijab is banned, the suicide bombers will be easy to detect, or unable to conceal their weapons. If the hijab is banned and the sporadic bombing continues, what will be the next extreme measure to put on the table? Perhaps shaving the beard and spying on the Muslims? Eventually, some will start to call for the Muslims to be interned as they, the Muslims, only fit the stereotype of suicide bombers. This is the slippery slope that the wishy-washy campaign to ban the hijab will set us on,” he said.
He, therefore, urged President Buhari to reject the vision of those who call for the misadventure of banning the hijab and also to take the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and the Muslim community as credible partner in formulating and driving policies to defeat terrorism and for peace building.
Professor Akintola while rejecting imposing a ban on hijab, said it is escapist and scapegoatism that will open the floodgates of anarchy and likely to compound the nation’s problems rather than alleviating 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?” he said.
He wonders if the thought would not likely lead to more religious upheavals as some religious zealots will want to capitalize on the ban to maltreat Muslim women?
He said the organisation appreciates Mr. President’s dilemma and that Boko Haram must be defeated, adding that Muslim women must however not be the scape goats and that Nigerian Muslims will not succumb to a policy that dehumanizes their mothers, wives, daughters and sisters.
Mallam Ashafa on his part said President Buhari should not consider or attempt any ban on Hijab, saying such consideration would ridicule the war against Boko Haram.
He said the ban on Hijab would means that Boko Haram has succeeded in their deceptive ideology and may strengthen their unjustifiable zeal to kill innocent persons.
On her part Hajia Aisha Umar Yusuf and Mallam Abubakar Lukman said the move would backlash saying the hijab is a divine uniform, symbol of honour and faith, and which shall be defended my Muslims anywhere and anytime.