Celebration as court upholds use of hijab in Osun schools
For the Muslim girls in Osun State public secondary schools, it was a new dawn as the State High Court declared that the female students are free to wear hijab in their schools.
Following the court injunction, the students have displayed much confidence and enthusiasm towards the decent dressing code and moral ethics attached to practicing their religion.
Besides, some Islamic groups including the Muslim Public Affairs Centre (MPAC) have emphasised that the judgement reflected the fact that, for the Muslim students, justice and freedom are principles that cannot be compromised.
The Executive Chairman, MPAC, Disu Kamor, in a statement, said the issue of hijab is one that unites all Muslims as it is an integral part of a Muslim woman’s right to practice her religion.
The case was filed in 2013 by the Osun State Muslim Community against the state government on the imposition of bans on wearing of hijab to school. The High Court judgment which overturns the discriminatory policy rejects the state’s claim that the policy was needed or constitutional.
In his 51-page judgement, Justice Jide Falola noted that the use of hijab by female Muslims is their fundamental human right to freedom of religion, conscience and thought and as such no female student must be molested or sent out of school for wearing it.
The justice also declared that since all missionary schools had been taken over by government in 1975, all students have equal rights to practice their religions.
Kamor said: “We applaud the ruling in this important case, which firmly underscores that courts should not blindly defer when the government invokes its powers to curtail fundamental rights.
“What remains to be seen is a timeline for the implementation of this ruling and clarification as to whether the current mindset allowing the discriminatory policy in the first place will remain,”
According to him, this judgment is important on many grounds including that: Nigeria can be a diverse and inclusive nation; no government can legitimise religious intolerance and that we will not stand by and allow them to do so; there is now unencumbered access to education for citizens of Osun state of all faiths.
He said while this important legal pronouncement should serve as a learning opportunity for all those who consistently cast themselves as the naysayers when Muslims demand their fundamental rights, it is sincerely believed this will stand as another legal precedent and a symbol of hope for students in Lagos State public schools to expect to be free of harassment in their schools soon.
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