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WORLD HIJAB DAY: Stop bullying our women, girls in Hijab, Coalition of Muslim women

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A coalition of eighteen Muslims organisations on Wednesday said religious tolerance is a must for peaceful co-existence, calling on all those who embarrass and bully Muslim women in hijab to stop the act or face the wrath of the law.

The group stated it was worried that the society applauds immorality and frowns at right choices; preach women empowerment, yet the empowerment and choice of Muslim women is opposed, a society where the urge to go naked is prevalent, hijab and decent dressing is villified.

The coalition stated this during a press conference to mark the world Hijab day held at Secretariat Mosque, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos on Wednesday.

The members of the coalition include: Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria Lagos state Area Unit; Nasrul-lahi-li Fathi Society of Nigeria (NASFAT); Al Muminaat: The Believing Women Organisation; Hijab Rights Advocacy Initiative; Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN Lagos); Muslim Public Affairs Centre ( MPAC); Guild of Muslim Professionals ( GMP); Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC); Pristine Cactus Foundation; The Criterion; International Muslim Women Union (IMWU); Pure Heart Islamic Foundation (PHF Lagos); Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria; Islamic Medical association of Nigeria ( IMAN); Akhawat; Izarul Haq Movement of Nigeria; Lagos Secretariat Community Central Mosque ( LSCCM) and An-Nujabau Female Forum.

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Executive Director, Hijab Rights Advocacy Initiative Mutiat Orolu-Balogun

“Eleven years ago, a global movement was born. This movement which is now being observed in 190 countries around the world, is a united voice against the criminalization, discrimination and oppression of Muslim Women due to the practice and observance of their religious codes.

“Some have claimed that the hijab is a symbol of oppression and segregation. Rather, it is unjust and unconstitutional laws, bigoted administrative rules and outright discrimination that oppress Muslim women and girls. We are inundated daily with reports of various Muslim women (young and old) across various cities, states, countries being harassed, subjugated and discriminated against due to the Hijab.

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“The theme of this year’s World Hijab Day Is Progression Not Oppression. Though the Hijab was legislated and enjoined on Muslim women over 1400 years ago as described in Chapter 24 (Surah An-Noor,Verse 31) of the Qur’an, we keep seeing how it is even more relevant today. Nakedness marked a distinctive feature of pre-civilization , hence to adopt modesty in dressing is progression.

Allah has also established this in Q 7 (Surah Al-Araf), Verse 26 -27:

” O children of Adam! We have provided for you clothing to cover your nakedness and as an adornment. However, the best clothing is righteousness. This is one of Allah’s bounties, so perhaps you will be mindful.

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“O children of Adam! Do not let Satan deceive you as he tempted your parents out of Paradise and caused their cover to be removed in order to expose their nakedness. Surely he and his soldiers watch you from where you cannot see them. We have made the devils allies of those who disbelieve”.

Furthermore, in Chapter 33(Surah Al-Ahzab) Verse 59: “O Prophet! Ask your wives, daughters, and believing women to draw their cloaks over their bodies. In this way it is more likely that they will be recognized ˹as virtuous˺ and not be harassed. And Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

“Thus the Hijab for us Muslim women is a fulfillment of a divine commandment which is further guaranteed by section 38 of the 1999 constitution. Which states

“Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance”.

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“While we have recorded a landmark achievement on Hijab, with the supreme court judgement in the case of Asiyat AbdulKareem V. Lagos State delivered on the 17th of June 2022 and the subsequent Lagos State Government circular, issued by the HOS, Mr. Hakeem Muri-Okunola on the 5th of December 2022, there are still numerous issues faced by Hijabis and by this press conference we hope to address a couple of these matters still casting a looming shadow on the progress made so far.

 

Stop bullying hijabis! Religious tolerance is a must for peaceful co-existence – NASFAT Women

The Women Affairs Secretary Lagos Zone 2 of Nasrul-lahi-il-Fatih, NASFAT, Alhaja Aishat Busari said the day is not for celebration, but rather to appreciate those who found light and are adorning the Hijab despite all odds.

According to her, it is a day to encourage those who are still struggling with the use of Hijab.

“It is disheartening to know how much the society applauds immorality and frowns at right choices. How women empowerment is preached, yet the empowerment and choice of Muslim women is opposed. In this World, where the urge to go naked is prevalent, let’s join hands together, Schoolteachers/administrators, leaders of Faith, and every one to encourage modesty, the use of Hijab.

“For so many years, NASFAT (together with UNICEF, TOSTAN, among others) have been organizing programmes and campaigns in place to end gender-based violence and all forms of discrimination against women and girls.

“Obviously, whoever discriminates against the Hijab is not only violating the law and peaceful co-existence but also encouraging violence.

“Let’s rise against all forms of discrimination against women and girls.

“Let’s rise against all forms of discrimination against the Hijab.

Discrimination against women in hijab is islamophobia — MPAC

Senior admin officer,

The Muslim Public Affairs Centre (MPAC) represented by Hajia Fatimah Sanni in her presentation stated that the intolerance by non-Muslims especially on hijab is Islamophobia.

“At the Muslim Public Affairs Centre (MPAC), we challenge Islamophobia, discrimination, and the ideologies that drive them. At the same time we promote empowerment and freedom to practice hijab in safety. We believe that the female Muslims should be free to express their religious beliefs free of discrimination and prejudice. This is why we have continued to support initiatives like the World Hijab Day campaign.

“We get numerous verified reports of Hijabis being compelled to either take off their hijabs completely or bare their ears when they require their biometrics taken even for a sim card registration! These operators have displayed crass ignorance and bigotry as it is expected that they, more than the ordinary citizen should know the regulations pertaining to the services they render.

“We urge all Nigerians to contribute to rid our society of hatred, discrimination and bigotry. In a society where the values of equality, fairness, diversity and inclusion are promoted, everyone is a winner.

Wearing of the hijab benefits the society at large — The CRITERION

The Assistant Welfare Secretary Lagos District, of The CRITERION, Hajia Modinat Braimah said:

“The Hijab does not oppress any woman for that matter as the media wants to portray it. It is not a political tool or a fashion statement. It is the dignity of the human person of a Muslim woman as guaranteed by the constitution of our dear country Nigeria.

We must mention the issue faced by defendants accused of crimes or wrong doings. Despite the presumption of innocence, an hijabi who finds herself as a defendant in a police station is usually stripped of her hijab and niqab and most times of her outer garments. The constitutional guaranteed freedom, of Right of dignity of the human person is not suspended because a person is accused of a crime she may not even be guilty of, and even if found guilty our laws are against torture and ill treatment of prisoners.

Our strength as a community and indeed a nation lies not in how we treat the high and mighty, but how we care for the weak and vulnerable. Rodditu bi Llah Rabban, wa bi Islam Deena, wa bi Muhammad nabiyyan wa Rasul.

All women deserve to be protected from sexual and gender based violence — FOMWAN

The Ameerah of Federation of Muslim Women of Nigeria, FOMWAN Lagos state Chapter, represented by Hajia Sherifat Ajagbe said: “It was indeed with heavy hearts and sadness that we received the news that one of our sisters in Niqob was raped in Ibadan, Oyo state very recently. While the initial news spoke of the desecration of the mosque as the venue of the attack further investigation has shown that the victim was attacked elsewhere. It is sad indeed that Muslim women who are known to be modest have become targets of these criminal elements. Indeed, the hijabi is almost becoming “endangered species“ as she is being discriminated against by her fellow citizens and she’s also not safe from the attacks of criminals.

“We at FOMWAN Lagos as well as the other 17 participating Organisations hereby call on the relevant authorities to prosecute as a matter of urgency the perpetuator of this heinous crime named as Idris A.K.A Kesari as well as his father popularly called Al-Majiri who not only helped the perpetrator to escape, before arrest but also seeks to intimidate the victim as well as concerned Nigerians.

“We stand in solidarity with all our sisters in Nigeria and indeed the whole world who are facing persecution due to upholding their Right to freedom of Thought , Conscience and Religion. We say to you “Do not fear! Allah is with us”.

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