Muslim Public Affairs Center (MPAC) expresses deep concern and condemnation regarding an alleged incident of discrimination against a Muslim student in hijab at the Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti. The incident allegedly took place on 17th of November 2023, when a lecturer appeared in a distressing video demanding that the Muslim student remove her hijab. Other students can be heard in the video pleading with the lecturer to stop harassing the poor student.
MPAC unequivocally condemns this incident as a blatant violation of the personal rights, dignity and religious freedom of the affected student, which are constitutionally protected. We also consider it a serious threat to the culture of peaceful coexistence among the diverse student body, which is only possible when the school authority does not attack the pillars of mutual understanding and respect amongst students. It is our expectation that our tertiary institutions will be a place to train students on the national values of tolerance, respect, equality, diversity, inclusion and personal dignity. This is for the overall benefits of our nation, and prepares them for life after school and in the wider world.
We urge the Founder and Vice-Chancellor of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti to think deeply about the implications of policies and practices that discriminate against a set of people based on their religion, and to play constructive roles in national peace, cohesion and unity. MPAC believes that discrimination against people of a different religion is not a show of true commitment to one’s own faith. It is important for our schools, both public and private, to truly become places of fostering peaceful coexistence of religions and for strengthening the pillars of the bridge of love, understanding and human brotherhood that divine religions preach, and call to. As proprietors, management and lecturers, it is our duty to ensure that we contribute to raising Nigerians of all backgrounds on the basic knowledge and principles of love, respect and personal dignity. Besides, pursuit of education must carry no price tags for a particular set of Nigerians, who should not be treated to be different and deserving of discrimination or harassment.
In the light of the above, we call on the Management of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, to take immediate and decisive action to address this matter. We strongly urge the university to take the following steps:
1• Conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the incident, ensuring that all parties involved are heard and that justice is served.
2• Provide counseling and support services for the affected student to help her cope with the emotional and psychological impact caused by the incident.
3• Take proactive measures to educate staff and faculty on cultural and religious tolerance and accommodation, emphasizing the importance of upholding the constitutional rights of all students.
We believe that addressing this issue promptly and transparently is crucial in maintaining the reputation and integrity of the institution. It will also send a clear message to the students and parents that all Nigerians are valued equally in the school, that the institution is a safe space for Muslims, and that no Nigerian girl will be forced to make a choice between what her faith obligates her to do and accessing education.
The Muslim Public Affairs Center remains committed to promoting harmony, understanding, and respect among individuals of different backgrounds in Nigeria and we count on the university for a quick and positive resolution of this unfortunate incident.