Friday, 01 March, 2013
MPAC Expresses Deep Shock Over Hijab Persecution Cases
MPAC wishes to let the affected students know that we stand full square with them in revulsion at this vandalism of their fundamental rights. MPAC continues to follow with increasing concern the spread of a rhetoric attempting to justify this action, which clearly demonstrates a lack of understanding and appreciation of the immense sensitivity of such an issue and the grave offence caused to more Muslims and non-Muslims of conscience as a result.
In today’s climate of heightened sensitivities, MPAC feels now is the time for people of faith to better acquaint themselves with sacred texts of each other, promote shared values, encourage mutual respect, accept diversity and enjoin peaceful co-existence. The flawed logic that the hijab threatens our secularism, which is the manufactured lie that is used to try and justify the illegal actions, is as moronic as saying that bearing a Muslim name threatens our secularism. It is a grave concern therefore that intolerance and Islamophobia are being taught at school so blatantly, and that many Muslim students are preyed on and forced to study in an atmosphere of fear, grief, intimidation and (threat of) corporal punishment. The dreadful condition of such students must make everyone who believes in justice share their stories and their grief, and these specific cases must be seen for what it is- another examples of a much wider and deeper hostility and discrimination against hijab, which exist in our society, at schools, in the workplace and in the worst of all places: in people’s hearts.
Although the anguish of the affected students and their families continue, it is time for us to let the erring officials in the affected schools know they simply cannot continue to make a living off us, while abusing and illegally criminalizing our religious culture. The MPAC is in close discussion with various parties in an attempt to bring this matter to a peaceful and satisfactory conclusion, and will be making further steps in the near future in this regard, which it will announce in due course.
While condemning these acts in the strongest terms, MPAC calls on all women, both Muslim and non-Muslim, and on all those truly upholding the principles of freedom, justice and respect of human rights, both female and male, to join hands in opposing this tyranny and erosion of basic religious and civil rights. Surely, the motive and tyrannical acts of the principals in the schools where these abuses took place demand a formal judgement from the government of the states, above and beyond this, the largely unchallenged Islamophobic attitudes and illegal actions of those discriminating against Muslims in hijab, in schools and workplaces, demand formal judgment in the court of law. MPAC calls on the affected states and indeed all states in Nigeria, to quickly implement programmes and policies to protect the right of female Muslims and ensure that their schools operate zero-tolerance policy on discrimination against hijab and Islamophobia. The Nigerian legal system already secures the right to decide whether or not to wear hijab, all we need to see now is government action to secure the freedom of citizens to act on that decision in all public life. Like those who committed similar crimes before them in cases that stand till today as a legal precedent and a symbol of hope for those who expect to be free of harassment in schools and their workplace, the perpetrators should not only be named and shamed; they should also bear the full brunt of the law.
On our part, these events will only strengthen our determination to pursue the cause of defending our sisters’ rights through consistent and comprehensive campaigning.