Muslim women kick against harassment of women in hijab

Tunde Akanbi, Ilorin

President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to uphold the fight for the rights and dignity of all Nigerian women.

A Muslim women Organisation, Al-Muminat, gave the advice on Wednesday in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, while reacting to the recent harassment of women in hijab.

Speaking through Hajia Mutiat AbdulRaheem Owolewa, the organisation reiterated that harassing women in hijab is an act of oppression.

It alleged that some military officials harassed a Muslim woman in face veil at the military checkpoint at sobi and asked her to remove her hijab which she refused until she was taken to a corner by a female soldier who unveiled her and searched her bag.

” On Saturday 16th January,2016, a Muslim woman in face veil who is a postgraduate student at Kwara State University had a harrowing experience with the soldiers at the checkpoint along Sobi baracks”
” The sister was asked to remove her veil by one of the soldiers, and when she asked the reason for that, a second soldier pointed to a poster with Abubakar Shekau’s picture and told her to go and ask him”

” She was eventually taken to a corner by a female soldier who unveiled her and searched her bag, finding nothing other than books. Yet, she was not released until after another 30minutes of harassment”, the group said.

According to Al-Muminat, donning the hijab, including the face veil, is a fundamental right of every Nigerian Muslim woman as enshrined in the Nigerian constitution.

Freedom of Expression

It urged the Federal Government to strike a balance between freedom of expression and the fight against terrorism.

The organisation noted that the spate of anti-hijab sentiments may not be unconnected to the hijab comments made by the President during his maiden media chat recently and urged the President to personally speak against the attacks and re-establish that hate-motivated crime is
loathed in the society.

It also called on the military and other para military agencies to secure the right to freedom of religion expression of Muslim women and caution its men to desist from acts of bigotry against women in hijab.

Al-Muminat lauded the Federal Government in its efforts to curb the waves of insurgency and acts of terrorism in the country and urged Muslim women to support and cooperate with all the law enforcing
agents in their collective fight against terrorism.

Panel of Enquiry

Reacting to the alleged assault of a woman in hijab at Sobi barrack checkpoint, the commandant of the 22 Armoured Brigade, Sobi, Brigadier General Benjamin Olufemi Sawyerr, who denied the alleged assault, said a Panel of enquiry has been set up to investigate the matter.

Brigadier General Sawyerr noted that the Muslim woman involved did not officially complain to the military authority, saying that the authority got the information on social media.