By Abubakar Yunusa Abuja
Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, has argued that no one has the right to ban the face veil worn by Muslim women, popularly known as Niqab, “because the freedom to ‘manifest’ religious belief is enshrined in the Constitution of Nigeria”.
A female Muslim alumnus of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, FUNAAB was reportedly forced to remove her veil by the school security men before she was allowed into the institution.
The group said, no institution of learning, from primary to tertiary, whether federal, state, or even private, has the right to prohibit the use of hijab or niqab. “It is a contravention of the provisions of Section 38(i) & (ii) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended which says inter alia.”
While reacting to the development, the MURIC director, Ishaq Akintola, in a statement on Sunday, said, Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, (ICCPR) guarantees the right to freedom of religion unconditionally.
“‘Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, including the freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice, and observance.
“In addition, Article 9 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights & Fundamental Freedoms contains a right to have ‘respect for the religious feelings of believers…’ But FUNAAB authorities have no respect for the religious feelings of Muslims. This must stop.
“The problem with some non-Muslim heads of educational institutions and public offices in the South West is that they wrongly assume that they can compel Muslims under them to abide by their non-Muslim way of dressing.
“They, therefore, go all out to enact rules and regulations which disallow Muslims from dressing like Muslims. This presupposes that they hate the sight of Muslims.”