Muslims call for peace in Osun school disagreement

Yinka Salaam, Osogbo, Additional report

The Osun State Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has been advised to tow peace line in addressing the court’s judgement that grants willing Muslims girls the right to wear hijab (Muslims headscarf) in public schools.

Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, NSCIA and Muslim Students Society of Nigeria, MSSN, gave the advice.

The organisations were addressing the reactions that trailed the judgment of Justice Jide Falola which made the Osun-CAN to asked Christian pupils to wear church garments to school in protest to the development.

While the Secretary General of the Supreme Council, Professor Ishaq Oloyede condemned the action of CAN, MSSN National Amir (President), Jameel Muhammad described it as ‘a premeditated attempt to cause violence.’

Both spoke at the Grand Finale of the 14th Biennial Qur’an Memorisation Competition of MSSN, Lagos.

Anti religious tendency
Oloyede accused CAN of plotting to make Muslims illiterates by stopping them from using hijab.

“I do not see how hijab of a Muslim lady is offensive to others. If our Catholic Sisters could go out in their own dress and it is not offensive to Muslims, then Christians too should tolerate Muslims Sisters. 

“I think we are having anti religious tendency. I am aware that there is a case against the National Youth Service Corps by a catholic lady who was asked to wear what was not acceptable to her. So, it is not just Muslims. As far as NSCIA is concerned, we cannot because we are Nigerians be de-islamised,” Oloyede said.

The Secretary General said neither Christians nor Muslims have the right to resort to violence in a bid to get their rights.

“Nobody has the right to take laws into their own hands. The best thing is to go to court. You only ask the law to take its cause. I believe that CAN will understand that there is no value in blocking people from enjoying their rights as long as that right doesn’t violate the constitution.

“Something must be wrong somewhere, because the Christianity I know does not tolerate lawlessness or indecent exposure that is now prevalent. I don’t see a forthright Christian who will say that dressing decently is offensive to her; there must be some other factors. Our own priority is the injunction from Allah,” he explained.

Law abiding
Commending Muslims for being law abiding, Oloyede enjoined CAN to tow the civilised route by approaching the court if the rights and privileges of its members were denied.

“It is also their right to appeal and the truth will be decided by the court. The constitution gave the right for freedom of religion as long as it does not affect public safety, health and right of others and I don’t see how the hijab will affect anyone. They are covering their heads and not their brain. I do not see how that will become offensive.

“We have not asked your own daughters to expose their bodies, if the Christians want their daughters to be naked let them be but they should not stop us from covering our own heads or bodies. Why should they insist that we should be like them? Muslims can’t be de-islamised because they want western education. I think it is a ploy by those who want Muslim females to be illiterates. By God’s grace, they will not succeed. We are totally in support of taking legal action,” he added.

The National Amir of MSSN, Jameel Muhammad urged Muslims in Osun State to resist taking ‘provocative’ actions.

“We don’t need to be violent with them. As Muslims, we should be law abiding and not be distracted with statements that are capable of causing chaos,” Muhammad said.

The Amir (President) of MSSN Lagos, Saheed Ashafa also urged Osun State Muslims to show their Christian counterparts the beauty of Islam by being calm and coordinated.

Hailing the judgment delivered by Justice Jide Falola of Osun State High Court, Ashafa advised all parties in the case to abide by the principle of constitutionalism.

“Now, Nigerians who are not stingy with truth can see which party in the case is intolerant. The calmness of Muslims in Osun has proven to the whole world that Muslims can be law abiding and more enduring. 

“While we expect a favourable judgement on hijab here in Lagos too, we wish to express our support for the Muslim Community and Muslim students in Osun State. They should protect their rights within the confines of the law and through peaceful approaches,” Ashafa stated.

The Chairman of Osun State branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Reverend Elisha Ogundiya said nothing would stop Christian students from wearing church garments to schools as long as their Muslim counterparts wear hijabs.

“We pray this will not lead to anarchy but if it does, well, somebody must be held responsible and that is the government. We have said it on many occasions that the government is like a man that marries two wives and he has to be fair to both of them. Christian children have their fundamental rights under the law of the land just like their Muslim counterparts. We issued a press statement and said that we would ask our children to start wearing church garments to school if the government implements the judgement. Now, Muslim students have started wearing hijab to school unchallenged and there is nothing wrong if Christian students also wear what they consider as emblem of Christianity to public schools.

“The judge said that the fundamental human right of the Muslim children was to wear hijab and to propagate their religion and that was why he granted them the opportunity to be wearing hijab. And if that is the case, our own children also have their own fundamental human right to wear their religious dresses wherever they want to wear them,’’ Reverend Ogundiya explained.

Justice Jide Falola of Osun State High Court had delivered a judgement on June 3, granting the use of hijab in public schools in Osun State, the Osun-CAN asked Christian pupils to wear church garments to school. Apart from causing confusion, the action almost led to religious crisis in the state on Wednesday but it was prevented by Oluwo of Iwo (King of Iwo), Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi.

Normalcy has however returned to both Iwo Baptist High High School and Christ African Middle School, Osogbo where wearing of Church and choir garments have caused some ripples, with full academic activities taking place uninterrupted.