Religious crisis is looming at the University of Ibadan International School over the denial of female Muslim students in the school the right to wear Hijab by the principal of the school, Mrs. Phebean Olowe.
The Principal of the school had over the years allegedly denied female Muslim students the right to wear the Hijab without providing any reason for her action.
Parents of the affected students under the auspices of International School Ibadan Muslim Parents’ Forum in a petition addressed to the principal, a copy which was sent to the Osun Daily explained that “Hijab wearing for young Muslim girls, apart from the fact that it is part of their religious belief, is part of their God given fundamental human right as well as the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
The parents in the petition entitled “Notification of Muslim parents’ resolution on Hijab for our Muslim girls in ISI”, signed by its Chairman, Alhaji Abdurrahman Balogun (Chairman) and Secretary, Mrs. Bilikis Badiru, maintained that there are two Court of Appeal judgments affirming that the use of hijab is a fundamental right in Nigeria under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, hence the management of the institution should desist from denying their wards the right to use Hijab in the school.
The duo in the petition copies of which were also sent to the Chancellor of University of Ibadan and Sultan of Sokoto, Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Council, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, The Chairman, ISI Parents Teachers Association, ISI, Vice – Chancellor, University of Ibadan, Deputy Vice – Chancellor (Academic) under whose the ISI is, University of Ibadan, Registrar, University of Ibadan, Chairman, University of Ibadan Muslim Community, Chief Imam, University of Ibadan Muslim Community, Minister, Federal Ministry of Education, Commissioner, Oyo State Ministry of Education, Executive Secretary, Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN), Chairman, Muslim Community of Oyo State, President, Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN), President, Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria (MULAN), President, Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria (MMPN), President, Nigeria Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), President, Muslim Rights Council (MURIC) and Chairman, Hijab Advocacy Groups, remarked that the use of Hijab, for Muslim girls, is now a global phenomenon irrespective of personal or professional callings; student, lawyer, nurse, Doctor, security personnel, teacher among others, who willingly adorn it.
The parents while urging relevant stakeholders to prevail on the principal and management of the institution to allow the female students to commence the use of Hijab from 2018/2019 academic session, however regretted that there were brilliant female Muslims students who have refused to come to the institution because of its perceived no Hijab doctrine.
The duo said, “Part of what distinguishes an institution is the ability to demonstrate a high level of tolerance of the rights of every child, including female Muslim children; one of which is the use of Hijab as desired by their parents, enjoined by their faith( Islam) and also permitted by the constitution of the federal government of Nigeria.
“It is our considered opinion and resolution that the school authority should not disallow or discourage willing Muslim girls who wish to wear uniformed mini hijab to protect their chastity in line with their religious belief. A mini-hijab is a piece of cloth covering the head, side face and neck neatly blended. This is personal and has no effect on other fellow students.
Quoting from the 1999 Constitution, the forum said, “Our resolution is premised on the ground, inter alia; that section 38 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria guarantees right to freedom of religion including the right to manifest religious belief within the ambit of the law. Using a mini-hijab to cover the head is a manifestation of and a fundamental requirement of our children’s religion.
“That the fact that a Muslim girl not using the hijab in ISI is a mere tradition (a colonial heritage) without a justification in the school dressing code and That such a tradition cannot override the provision of section 38 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999 CFRN).
“Moreover, there are two Court of Appeal judgments affirming that the use of hijab is a fundamental right in Nigeria under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The use of Hijab, for Muslim girls, is now a global phenomenon irrespective of personal or professional callings; student, lawyer, nurse, doctor, security personnel, teacher among others, who willingly adorn it.
They added that “The Body of Benchers in Nigeria recently endorsed the use of mini-hijab not only at the call to the bar ceremony but also at the Nigeria law school and indeed in the legal practice. We wish to let you know that there were brilliant female Muslims students who have refused to come to ISI because of its perceived no hijab doctrine. Our children have, up to this time, suffered undue psychological stress due to the fact that their natural mode of dressing has hitherto been denied when in school.
All efforts made to get reactions of the Principal, Mrs. Olowe proved abortive.
She however explained that only the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University could comment on the matter.