The Osun State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria has vowed to order Christian students in public schools to wear church garments to school if Governor Rauf Aregbesola goes ahead to implement the judgement of the state’s High Court giving legal backing to the wearing of hijab to school. Justice Oyedeji Falola of the Osun State High Court, Oshogbo, gave the ruling on 3rd June, 2016.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is worried by this show of collective arrogance. Osun CAN’s threat is a manifestation of poverty of ideas. CAN is at the end of its tethers. The decision to go public with this kind of threat is short in logic, long in mediocrity.
MURIC is constrained to do a brief x-ray of the situation. It is high time Nigerians admitted that there are fanatics and extremists among both Christians and Muslims. It is sad to note that Nigeria is currently sandwiched between fanatical Christians and extremist Muslims. The provocative and neo-colonialist propensities of the fanatical Christians often goad extremist Muslims to violence.
In this particular scenario, Osun CAN has simply upgraded collective fanaticism to officialdom and demonstrated the fact that it has no respect for the rule of law. It should be noted that the threat coming from CAN is tantamount to contempt of court. A competent court of law gives judgement, then the executive body of a religious group which is supposed to know better, starts issuing threats.
Yet in its characteristic manner as an unrepentant anarchist, a confusionist and advocatus diaboli, Osun CAN has appealed against the judgement of the court. Is it therefore not highly hypocritical to still turn around issuing threats? If Osun CAN knew the civilized way to reject a court judgement, why has it also chosen to take the barbaric path parri passu? Why not wait for the outcome of its appeal?
For those who care to reason, we reiterate the rationale for the demand for the use of hijab by female Muslim students in all public schools. Firstly, hijab is divinely commanded in the Glorious Qur’an (24:30-31) and failure to abide attracts Allah’s wrath. Secondly, Freedom to practice and manifest one’s religion is enshrined in Section 38 (i) & (ii) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Thirdly, the conventional school uniform was designed by the British colonial masters who, essentially, were Christians. The present school uniform is therefore a Christian uniform and it is being imposed on Muslim students. This, to us, is unacceptable. It is oppressive and sectional. It assails all known principles of democratic practices.
MURIC therefore hails the June 3, 2016 judgement of Justice Oyedeji Falola as fair, balanced and historic. A Daniel is come to judgement.
The threat by Osun CAN stands logic on its head. It is only Muslims who use hijab everywhere they go, whether they are going to the workplace, to attend an official function, to a party or for a friendly visit. They use it whenever they are outdoors. Christians have never been known to do this.
It therefore sounds ridiculous to hear CAN threatening to direct Christian students to use church garments to school. MURIC has two posers for Osun CAN:
1. Since it is not only female Muslim students who will be using the hijab (all conscious female Muslims in the state use hijab whenever they step out of their houses), will Osun CAN equally order Christian civil servants, businessmen, farmers and artisans in the state to start wearing sultana and other church garments anywhere they go?
2. If CAN gives such an order, what kind of church garment will be used by Christians who are neither members of the Celestial Church nor members of any of the white-garment churches?
3. As female Muslims use their hijab even to social events, will Osun CAN also order all Christians in the state to wear their church garments to all social events including the ‘owambe’ and overnight parties?
The high level of deceit in Osun CAN will be exposed if it fails to issue the above orders to all Christians in the state. CAN is using a tactic known as ‘elimination by procrastination’. The whole idea is to exterminate Islamic landmarks by disallowing or delaying their practice among Muslim children until the latter become adults. It is assumed that it will be too late to start practicing such things at that time since they are not used to it. A sapling is easier to bend than a tree.
We call on the government of the State of Osun to ignore the rantings of Osun CAN. Aregbesola’s regime should not succumb to intimidation after satisfying all righteousness. Let the law take its due course.
We urge the Ministry of Education to ensure immediate and prompt compliance with the court’s directive. Hijab samples should be sent to all schools. The ministry should show the political will for implementation. Undue delay and disobedience of clear directives by school heads should be treated as insubordination and met with stiff punishment as contained in civil service rules.
We charge the Osun Police Command to do the rightful. The police has a duty to execute orders once the judiciary has made pronouncements. Anyone who incites citizens in the state to behave in a manner capable of causing public disorder should be made to face the wrath of the law. The court has made the type of garment approved by it abundantly clear. Anyone who causes minors to use unapproved garments should be dealt with according to the law.
Meanwhile, we urge Muslim parents and Islamic organizations in the State of Osun to remain proactive, calm and law abiding. We appeal to them to cooperate with the state government and the schools in ensuring that female Muslim students start using hijab made in the colour and design of their schools’ uniforms. Muslims must eschew all forms of lawlessness or the temptation to react to provocation from Osun CAN.
Finally, we call on all well-meaning citizens within and outside the State of Osun to call the state’s chapter of CAN back to the path of reason. In particular we appeal to both Mr. Femi Falana and Professor Wole Soyinka to speak out on the court’s judgement on hijab and CAN’s reaction in the same way that they intervened recently in the case of Ese Oruru of Bayelsa State. We are interested in seeing how objective the two respected social critics can be.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)