It was another victory for Muslim female students as the Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos on Thursday declared that female Muslim students have the right to use hijab as part of the school uniform.
Though a lower court in Lagos had ruled in October 2013 that hijab was illegal but an Osun State High Court recently ruled that Muslim female students were free to wear hijab in public schools in the state..
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) swiftly condemned the verdict of the Court of Appeal. The association in a statement signed by its Director, Prof. Ishaq Akintola said the ruling had restored hope in the judiciary as the last hope of the common man.
The statement added: “The five judges deserve more accolades. They have proved beyond any reasonable doubt that they were principled men of the bench. It is the victory of the rule of law. Truth has prevailed over falsehood.
The fact that the judgment was unanimous and only two of the five judges are Muslims leaves a firm stamp of authority on the legality of the use of hijab not only by female Muslim students but also by all Muslim women in the country.
“MURIC therefore warns officials in public and private institutions who are in the habit of intimidating and stigmatizing Muslim women in hijab to desist forthwith.
We laud Muslim students and Islamic organizations in Lagos State who have demonstrated patience and tolerance in the face of provocations since the unfavourable court judgment of 2013. Unlike their counterparts in the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Osun State chapter who took the law into their hands when the judgment on the hijab case was unfavourable to them, Lagos Muslims showed maturity and respect for the rule of law.
“Nigerians have important lessons to learn in the two cases. One, that litigants should remain patient when a lower court makes a pronouncement as there is opportunity to approach an appellate court. Two, that democracy can only thrive where we respect the rule of law. A situation whereby litigants go berserk over a court’s pronouncement can only breed anarchy.
Three, that Muslims are often branded extremists by those who deprive them of their Allah-given fundamental human rights in order to perpetuate the oppression and persecution of Muslims. Whereas opponents had been calling Lagos Muslims ‘terrorists’, ‘extremist’, etc on account of their demanding the right to use hijab, the Appeal Court judgment has now confirmed that the Muslims were doing the right thing.
“Four, that the faith of our politicians and leaders does not matter. What matters is that every leader must be prepared to do the right thing no matter whose ox is gored. Five, Nigerians have been offered case studies in religious tolerance on a platter of gold. The searchlight for religious extremists and fanatics should be turned away from South West Muslims and focused where it properly belongs.
The nature of truth is to eventually prevail over falsehood no matter how long. This is the sixth lesson. We call on Nigerians to exercise patience whenever they feel cheated. We should not resort to violence. The law courts are there. The Supreme Creator is also watching. The Glorious Qur’an says, “Tell them (Oh Muhammad), that the truth has come and falsehood is vanquished. Verily indeed falsehood by its nature is bound to perish” (Qur’an 17:81)
“We appeal to Muslims throughout the country to remain calm, law abiding and watchful”.
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