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HATE FOR HIJAB








By
Sanni K. Yusuf

The hijaabi - in her NYSC apparel - was seen shedding tears as she made steps out of the VP's office. Some members of staff of the school who could not hold back their curiosity walked up to her in empathy.

"Salaamu 'alaykum", they greeted looking at her pitifully. "Wa alayum salaam", greeting returned in a crying, shaky voice. "Why is your face unpleasantly watered in tears"? curiosity expressed empathically. "Thank you. Hmm! I came to drop my deployment letter here (for resumption afterwards) only to be rejected outright with the excuse that my mode of dressing does not fit into the system", she replied. Imagine the cruelty! Have we no hijab wearers as teachers in Nigerian schools already? A public school, for that matter.

The lady was denied service to her fatherland on account of sheer hate for her fundamental human right. She wasn't sent back because she wasn't up to the task for which she was deployed therein. She wasn't rejected because she wasn't worth the desired taste. She wasn't dejected because she wasn't competent to sail through teaching-learning with students. She was rather derided callously and dispirited viciously because she wilfully chose to be covered in hijab - her human right. What offence has she committed with that? What law of the land has she flouted to warrant such cruelty. Where is the tolerance we all crave to have, and what could be more terrorising than such agonising inhumanity? Maybe the school had lost a messiah who would have done it a turnaround. A couple of years ago, a wearer of hijab won the Lagos State Best Teacher Award. Imagine if she had been denied the showcase of her efficacy on account of her style of dressing, her school would have apparently lost a rare gem.

I had my NYSC in Kaiama Local Government Area of Kwara State. There, I saw a true reflection of religious tolerance, especially with respect to dressing in schools. While muslim schoolgirls would crown their uniforms with hijabs, christians would don scarfs on their school wears. Each time I entered any of the schools, I marveled at the high level of tolerance displayed by the handlers. Tolerance isn't about the muslims worshipping with the christians, or vice versa; it's rather about the practitioners of a religion not inflicting physical, emotional pains on their counterparts. Till my one year national call lapsed in that part of the country, there was no single record of religious brouhaha, bugaboo or pandemonium.

The cry for the use of hijab in our schools shouldn't have taken this long, if our christian friends (maybe not all of them) and some misrepresentative muslims weren't hell bent on their conspicuous hate for the religious right. Instances abound the world over where muslim girls wear hijab as part of their school uniforms.

The hate for the garment is so deep that where the government allows its use in schools, non-muslim officials - principals, VPs etc. - do tactically and sometimes unrepentantly disenfranchise the muslim girls. For instance, there is what is called the "Option B Uniform" at the federal ministry of education. This enables muslim girls in the unity schools to don the hijab on their uniforms. It's a right under the above-captioned provision, not a privilege. While some school managements have abided accordingly, some play the non-compliance game, and to date, the muslims are still living in denial of their right.

The ongoing hijab imbroglio at the International School, Ibadan (ISI) which has forced the doors of the school shut is just one of the many denials muslims keep suffering on this part of the planet. In no distant time, the doors will be opened, and trust me, the girls will don their hijab. There was never a time the hijab case was lost to the enemies. Victory is surely ours. They tried it in Osun, it was a play to the gallery. They did same in Ekiti, it was all goose chase. They tried heaven and earth in the case of Barr. Amasa Firsau, it rather ended in victory for us.

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