Muslim students commemorated the World Hijab Day with a sensitisation rally in some parts of Lagos State last Monday. MIFTAUDEEN RAJI (300-Level Mass Communication, University of Lagos) reports.
Beyond its religious necessity, hijab, a headscarf worn by Muslim women to cover their upper parts of the body, is seen as a source of pride and dignity by youngsters. During the celebration of the World Hijab Day last Monday, Muslims came out in large number in hijab to march through Lagos.
Muslim youths in higher institutions, under the aegis of Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN), held a procession across the state to promote understanding on the use of hijab.
The procession started at the University of Lagos (UNILAG) and it took the students through Ikeja and Yaba, where the Amirah (Female Head) of the Lagos State Unit of MSSN, Hajia Hafsah Badru, addressed the participants.
Hajia Badru, who spoke on the theme of the event: Beautiful, confident and empowered, said wearing hijab was not a symbol of women oppression, noting that the willingness of the women to commemorate the day had dispelled the belief that the use of headscarf was foisted on them.
“Muslim women desire to put on the Hijabs. It is not a symbol of oppression or segregation. We choose to wear it and we love it. It makes us beautiful, confident and empowered,” she said.
She called for severe punishment against anyone who harassed Muslim women over the use of hijab, urging the government to prosecute security agents, who maltreated women in hijabs.
Hajia Badru said: “The avalanche of agonising stories and revelations of intimidation of Muslim women in hijab in recent times are condemnable. We see them as acts against the laws of the land and Allah’s decree. Our stand is simple; if the government is truly not the one sending the security agents to harass Muslim women wearing hijab, it should prove that by fishing out the perpetrators of this heinous transgression against our women.
“This is because the act of harassing women clad in hijab needs to be combated not only at the point of commission, but also after the act has been committed. The law remains the law and it must be duly applied, irrespective of whom it favours or not.”
Badru, who condemned in entirety the activities of the Boko Haram sect, explained that Hijab worn by Muslims was not to support or aid the sect’s activities.
Blaming corruption as a factor that gave room for abuses of Muslim women, Hajia Badru said: “Muslim women’s reason to wear hijab should not be what will be infringed upon, because they are not the ones who diverted the fund meant to buy arms to boost security.
“Even when the Federal Government has successfully established that the arms fund was diverted, it is shocking to now see the same government, its soldiers, police and non-Muslim citizens portray religious intolerance to the tune of stopping the use of hijab.”
The Muslim students displayed various placards with different inscriptions centered on educating non-Muslims on the use of hijab. They sang Islamic songs as the procession returned to the UNILAG campus.
In a statement issued by Amirah of Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Zaynab AbdulAzeez, the body said: “Hijab is not a culture. Its connotations are not Arabian, Egyptian, Pakistani, black or white; its usage is to provide a protection and safeguard women.
“Hijab is not just a piece of cloth; it is a behaviour, manner, morality and it is mostly unimaginable that our government realises that a woman has the right to show what she has, but refuses to admit that she has the right to also cover it.
“It is appalling that despite the recognition of religious freedom by the Nigeria Constitution and United Nations Charter, Muslims women in hijab are still being harassed in their various places of work, hospital, registration points, schools, streets, bus stops and in commercial vehicles.
“Without bias, an abuse carried out against anyone’s freedom to practise the tenets of his or her religion is a disrespect and disregard to the Constitution and it constitutes an abuse of human rights.”
The World Hijab Day is celebrated in more than 116 countries and over one million places across the world. It was initiated by Nazma Khan, a Bangladesh lady in New York in 2013. The day came into being in recognition of millions of Muslim women, who choose to wear the Hijab.