A coalition of 15 Muslim organizations in Nigeria on Monday cried out over continued harassment of women in Hijab, saying many of them were denied registration at places such as NIN registration centres, UTME, banks and other data capturing centers.
They however urged government agencies, private organizations and schools to desist from harassing and molesting women in hijab, saying federal and state government as well as the constitution of Nigeria has permitted the use of hijab.
In a joint press conference on Monday to commemorate the world hijab day every February 1, the coalition hinted that throughout the month of February, there are plans to raise 1 million voices on social media to end hijabophobia.
The groups, made up of organizations such as Hijab Rights Advocacy Initiative, Criterion, FOMWAN, Muslim Professionals, Al-Muminaat, MPAC, NASFAT, MURIC, among others also listed several cases of harassment of female in Hijab at NIN registration centres, among others.
The organizations urged the federal government, Governors of States, the National Assembly, State Houses of Assembly, the Judiciary and also other relevant agencies, to ensure that Hijab wearing Muslim Women are not harassed and discriminated against.
Addressing the press conference on behalf of the coalition, the convener of Hijab Rights Advocacy Group, Barr. Mutiat Orolu said, “The Court of Appeal has upheld the use of the hijab as being in consonance with the provisions of Section 38(1) of the 1999 constitution (as amended), hence, a fundamental right. To deny any Muslim Woman or girl who so desires to wear the Hijab from doing so, is discriminatory.
“We have also recorded several cases, where public services like NIMC registration, UTME exams and even banks are located in facilities owned by the church, Muslim women in Hijab are denied entry, our daughters have had to take off their Hijabs in order to write UTME exams or even collect their ATM cards.”
She added, “Data capturing for biometrics is another hurdle Muslim Women in Hijab must cross. While the constitutional provisions support the wearing of the hijab and the Nigeria Biometrics Standards Regulations, 2017 (Federal Republic of Nigeria Official Gazette No. 117 1st November, 2017 Vol. 104) as well as guidelines on Biometric Standards published by the National Identity Management Commission states “If an applicant wears a head covering for religious purposes (e.g. hijabs) or on medical grounds (e.g. eye patches), a photograph of the applicant wearing it will be accepted provided all facial features from bottom of the chin to top of the forehead (including both edges of the applicant’s face) are clearly shown. Muslim women are still forced to either bare their ears or remove their hijab completely especially when applying for international passports.”
Also speaking, Amirah of Muslim Students’ Society (MSS), Lagos Area Unit, Bashira Majekodunmi also said some school teachers are still harassing students in primary and secondary schools despite the circular issued by the state government which allows the use of Hijab by female students.
According to her, some of the school teachers still claim ignorance of the circular.
She urged the state government “to help to recirculate the circular in order to make it known to those teachers that it is a right students should not be deprived of.”