MURIC denounces Soyinka’s position on the hijab

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is at odds with Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka on the issue of hijab as part of school uniform.

In a statement on Monday, MURIC Director Prof. Ishaq Akintola said hijab on school uniforms should not lead to the annihilation of any culture.

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Quoting Soyinka at an event in Abeokuta last week, “There is another thing going on in my mind. And I think we have experts here who will talk about it. There are school children there. And a wonderful thing about them to me is that they are in uniform, in other words, I can’t tell which one is Christian, which one is Muslim, which one is a worshiper of Orisa, which one is Zoroastrian, who is a Buddhist. They are school children.”

But in response, Akintola said, “We beg you to disagree, sir. The children may be in uniform, but what kind of uniform? That’s what the respected Nobel laureate didn’t see. He couldn’t see what we see everyday. We see humiliation every day. We see bullying every day. We see stereotypes, stigma and harassment every day. Muslim children come home every day with tales of derision and ostracism from school principals and teachers.

“The students Professor Soyinka saw were in Christian uniforms, but of course the professor didn’t. Whenever Muslim girls are denied the right to wear the hijab, they are forced to wear the Christian uniform Any Muslim student who wears her uniform without a hijab wears a Christian uniform.

“A school uniform for Muslim female students without a hijab is alien to Muslim culture. What Muslims accept as a school uniform for their daughters is one with a head covering. It is the Christians who do not hesitate to bare their heads in public. We do, and our value system must be respected if there is tolerance in society. Why don’t educated Nigerians want to tolerate the hijab? Who did this in Nigeria?

He said Muslim female students who require hijab are not asking to use different uniforms from other female students as they will wear the same uniform but add a head covering of the same material and color with the uniform.

He said: “The Nobel laureate is a person who has traveled a lot. He must be familiar with Liverpool in the UK. Several Muslim children use the hijab over their school uniforms at Archbishop Blanche College (along Smithdan Road), King David’s College, Blue Coat at Wavertree Belvedere Girls’ School, Toxteth, St Hildas and Holly Lodge Girls’ School (on Queen’s Drive) , all to Liverpool City Council. Ditto in Birmingham, Leeds, Bradford, London, Manchester and Rochdale.

“That’s the problem with Nigeria. Our political and academic leaders have breakfast in London, lunch in Virginia, dinner in Scotland. They see trams, trolleys, subways and other modern transport systems But they never think of replicating it in their own country They see freedom of religion in the form of school children using hijab but they will come to Nigeria and oppose hijab because they think Nigerian Muslims are destined to die in colonial slavery.

“The photo of Barrack Obama sitting with a hijab-wearing American schoolgirl went viral during his administration. There were other students in hijab in the same class. This photo sent a strong message to the world. It is only in the south of Nigeria that we want to perpetuate the French method of assimilation. The rest of the world has moved on. But Nigerians, especially Southerners, remain glued to the colonial mentality.

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