Muslim women and students on Sunday stormed the streets of Lagos to complain about their continuous harassment in schools and workplaces.
The female Muslims said that despite their peaceful nature, they were being molested and victimised for putting on the hijab.
The women who held an awareness rally were members of Al-Mu’minaat (The Believing Women) Organisation, Federation of Muslim Women (FOMWAN), Nasrul- lahi -li Fathi Society of Nigeria (NASFAT) and the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN) and Organization of Tadhamunul Muslimeen (OTM) among others.
During the rally, the aggrieved Muslims displayed placards and boards with inscriptions promoting the acceptance of the use of hijab in Lagos State and Nigeria.
The rally was organized in commemoration of the 2019 World Hijab Day.
It was held simultaneously in three venues –
Maryland to Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park, Ojota, Roundabout bus stop Otto to Cele bus stop Ijanikin and from joju round about to Sango round about.
Speaking with journalists, the Amirah of Al-Mu’minaat in Lagos State, Alhaja Khadijah Abdus-Salam, lamented that government officials “ brutalise ” school girls and female Muslims for wearing Hijab.
She said: “It is noteworthy that 2019 WHD commemoration is with a mixed feeling for on one hand we are happy that the awareness and campaign had gained considerate momentum so much that it is marked in so many countries. However, the antagonists of Hijab project have unabatedly continue their projects and persecution of our school girls and women in Hijab. Some school principals brutalize school girls for no reasons other than wearing Hijab, why this?
“Some of the questions that I have being asked is “Why does Islam make Hijab Mandatory for Women? Why do you choose to cover? Hijab is not oppression, it is expulsion from harassment and other vices. It is freedom from disrespect, prying eyes of lustful men in the society.
“We are treated differently and looked upon differently because of what we wear, some look at Hijab as a form of enslavement, it is not, rather it’s liberating. We are being harassed with a metal detector, body search and passing through an extra security check, why? Enough is Enough! Stop this discrimination! Hijab tells those I meet to deal with my intellect and not to focus on my body.
“Hijab has come to stay, it is a divine injunction and the word of our Lord is True. We say to the world; Let us be! Let the Hijabis make their choice, don’t design what we should wear, our Lord is the Best Designer. It is not something that I might want or not want to do; it is something I have to do. Does wearing Hijab affect you personally or has an effect on the society? Let us be! It is so infuriating when my Hijab is used as a symbol for their ignorance and worse indeed.”
The representative of NASFAT, Mujeedat Abajo Musa, described hijab as a constitutional right that is capable of reducing rape in the society.
She said, “Hijab is a constitutional right. With hijab, the issue of rape can be reduced in a state like Lagos. For peace to reign, we want them to respect us.”
Also, the representative of the MSSNLagos, Hajia Olaoluwa Rahma, urged Muslim women to be bold to put on their hijab.
“Our hijab is our right. We should never be shy to defend ourselves. We should always speak up. As Muslims, we must be free from oppression. Let us be free to put on our hijab anywhere, including schools. You have a legal right to wear the hijab, enjoy it,” she said.
On her part, FOMWAN’s representative, Hajia Rofiat Owonikoko, said that Islamic organisations won’t stop engaging the government and appropriate authorities if hijab harassment persists.
“Hijab is Allah’s injunction. Our hijab is our own Permanent Voters Card (PVC). The time for us to take massive action has come. Hijab cannot continue to be a sign of oppression,” she said.
Reacting to why hijab-wearing Muslims are being harassed in Nigeria, Hajia Sherifah Yusuf-Ajibade, Coordinator of Social Advocacy Project, said, “I think it is bigotry and Islamophobia. Everywhere in the world, there is freedom of religion. If you don’t deny other peoples’ right, why should you be disturbed to practice your own right? People in foreign schools are not denied their right to use the hijab, why should ours be different?”