Kazeem Ugbodaga

Students wearing Hijab

Students wearing Hijab

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has described the idea of imposing a ban on hijab by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government as mere escapist ideology that will compound the nation’s security challenges, saying it will open the floodgates of anarchy in the country.

MURIC in a statement signed by its Director Professor Ishaq Akintola said rather than solve the problem of terrorism in the country as being anticipated by the president it will aggravate it.

Buhari had at Wednesday’s presidential media chat hinted on the possibility of imposing a ban on hijab in the near future if the bombings of innocent citizens continue.

“It is scapegoatism. It will open the floodgates of anarchy. Instead of solving Nigeria’s security problems, it is most likely to compound it. If army and police uniforms are not banned although they are often used by bandits, why should we ban hijab? Security agents know how they often fish out hoodlums who use police and soldiers’ uniforms to commit atrocities. The same method should be used to prevent the use of hijab for bombing.

“What crime have Nigerian Muslim women committed that they should be derobed in public? Without their hijab, Muslim women feel as if they are naked. Users of hijab are in all walks of life. They are civil servants, business women, teachers, etc. Most importantly, they are tax payers and voters. They voted Buhari into power. Is Buhari’s government warming up to encroach on Allah-given fundamental rights of Muslim women? Is this an appropriate pay-back?

“Another dimension in the idea of banning hijab is the geographical area likely to be involved in the ban? Will it be limited to the three troubled states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe? Will it extend to the whole North East or will the ban cover the whole of Nigeria?” it asked.

According to MURIC, “the question also arises, Mr. President, if you ban hijab, what is the time frame? When will you deban it? Are we not likely to experience more religious upheavals after the ban as some religious zealots will want to capitalize on the ban by maltreating Muslim women? Will these religious fanatics who use the period of the ban to oppress Muslim women stop their repression even after hijab has been de-proscribed?”

MURIC which wondered whether President Buhari has pondered over the impact of the imposition of a state of emergency on those three states by the past administration affirmed that the measure did not stop insurgency.

“We posit that Boko Haram handlers will simply shift to other methods to conduct their nefarious activities. Already they have introduced suicide bombing by children. Is Buhari going to ban children from going out to the streets?

“MURIC appreciates Mr. President’s dilemma. We understand that Boko Haram must be defeated. But Muslim women must not be the scape goats. Nigerian Muslims will not succumb to a policy that dehumanizes their mothers, wives, daughters and sisters. Banning hijab tantamounts to institutionalizing the stereotyping of Muslim women. This is unacceptable.

“Hijab is more than a covering for female Muslims. It is a unique identity for Muslim women. It is a mark of dignity and a symbol of piety. Hijab is an integral part of Islam, a microcosm in a macro. Whoever bans hijab has fired a shot at the religion of Islam. We therefore advise Mr. President to tread softly,” it added.

The group further argued that hijab also represents chastity and innocence, saying by banning hijab, the country will be pronouncing its hypocrisy to the international community as a country which claims to be fighting HIV and AIDS yet it has failed to protect chastity and innocence.

According to MURIC, whoever bans hijab has given unbridled licence to indecent dressing among women, its attendant sexual licentiousness and the exposure of society to its after effects.

MURIC urged Buhari and his security chiefs to find other means of stopping the bombings. “They should leave Muslim women alone. Nigeria’s security agencies must sit up and devise other means. There must be new initiatives and fresh ideas. Armchair crime-fighting is an anachronism. They must not use Muslim women as scapegoats. They must step up their intelligence gathering gimmicks,” it stated.