At a moment when constitutional rights and fundamental safety are in peril as a result of surge in abuses, discrimination and Islamophobia, it is crucial that we address these major areas of concern in order to preserve the guarantees of our nation’s Constitution. Whether you’re in school, traveling, in public, or at home, it’s important to know your rights, and it is important that victims of breaches of constitutional rights or hate crimes should never be afraid to share their story.
Your Rights as a Student
- You have the right to wear religious clothing. You also have the right to wear clothing with a religious message, as long as other clothes with similar messages are allowed.
- You have the right to inform others about your religion. You have the right to pass out literature or to speak to others about Islam, as long as it is not done in a disruptive manner.
- You have the right to organize student-led prayers on campus, as long as the service is not disruptive to the function of the school.
- You may have the right to attend Friday prayer.
- You have the right to be excused from school for national religious holidays.
- You have the right to be excused from class discussions or activities that you find religiously objectionable.
- You have the right to form an extracurricular Muslim student group.
- You have the right to express political views as long as you do not cause disruption
Your Rights as an Employee
- Reasonable religious accommodation. The failure of an employer to reasonably accommodate your religious practices may constitute employment discrimination. “Religious practices” include prayer breaks, wearing a beard or hijab, going to Jummah (Friday) prayers, going to Hajj, etc.
- Fairness in hiring, firing, and promotions. Your employer is prohibited from considering religion when making decisions affecting your work.
- A non-hostile work environment. Your employer must ensure that you are not subjected to anti-Muslim insults, harassment or unwelcome and excessive proselytizing.
- Complain about discrimination without fear of retaliation. You have guarantees of your right to report an act of alleged employment discrimination. It is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for your complaint.
Your Rights with Law Enforcement
- If stopped by police:
- On the street: The police must have a specific reason to approach and question you. If you are approached and questioned, the police can pat you down over the outside of your clothing if they have reason to suspect that you are armed and dangerous. You do not have to answer any questions besides identifying who you are and showing a government-issued ID. After the interaction, you will be either free to leave or under arrest. Ask the officer clearly if you are free to leave or if you are under arrest. If you are free to leave, consider just walking away.
- In your car: Keep your hands where they can be seen. If you are driving a vehicle, you must show your license, registration and proof of insurance (Lagos State now requires annual renewal of vehicle’s Proof of Ownership). You do not have to consent to a search, but police may have legal grounds to search your car anyway. Clearly say that you do not consent to the search. Officers may separate passengers and drivers from each other to question them, but no one has to answer any questions.
- If arrested or taken to a police station: Remember you do not have to talk to any police officer even if you have been arrested or detained. Clearly ask for a lawyer and one phone call until they are provided. If you cannot afford a lawyer, the government has to provide one.
- If mistreated: Do not resist arrest or fight with any police officers. Write down the officer’s name, badge number and any other identifying information. Try to find witnesses and write down their contact information. File a complaint with MPAC as soon after the event as possible.