Nigerian court says headscarves rule, ok!

July 29, 2016

Nigerian girls have the right to wear the hijab headscarf to school, an appeals court has ruled in a country where suicide bombers have abused Islamic dress to hide their weapons.

The ruling by Nigeria’s Court of Appeal in Lagos “has restored hope in the judiciary as the last hope of the common man”, said the director of the Muslim Rights Concern group, Ishaq Akintola.

The unanimous decision, overturning a ruling in 2013 which banned hijabs in Lagos government schools, has added authority since three of the five judges are not Muslim, he said.

The issue has ignited passions in a country suffering from Boko Haram’s Islamic uprising in the north-east. Some suicide bombers, including men disguised as women in full hijab, have hidden explosives under their robes.

The nation of about 170 million people is almost equally divided between a mainly Muslim north and Christian south.

Last week’s ruling came in response to an appeal against a Lagos state ban, which had argued that hijabs were not part of the approved school uniform.

The hijab controversy has been most heated in the mainly Christian, south-western Osun state. The High Court there ruled last month that any harassment of girls wearing the hijab constituted an infringement of their rights.

The local branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria had accused state governor Rauf Aregbesola, a Muslim, of supporting the hijab as part of an “Islamisation” agenda. Earlier this year, it ordered Christian students to wear choir robes to school, but only a few complied.

Secretary-general Ishaq Oloyede of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs has suggested the controversy is a campaign by Christian extremists to force Muslim girls into a choice between schooling and Islam.