World, Africa

Nigerian school makes Muslim girls remove headscarves

Video sparks outrage on social media over topic that has become the subject of a long-drawn legal war

Abu 'Adnan   | 06.07.2019
Nigerian school makes Muslim girls remove headscarves

LAGOS, Nigeria

Nigeria's headscarf crisis festered Friday after footage emerged online of school guards and teachers ordering Muslim girls to remove their headscarves before entering a school compound in the southwestern town of Ibadan.

The video sparked outrage on social media as Nigerians took sides mostly along religious lines over a topic that has become the subject of a long-drawn legal war.

The 45-second clip was filmed at The International School, Ibadan.

"Let them go to hell!" a teacher was heard shouting at one student’s mother, who said the school’s action was a recipe for a national crisis.

"You people are just looking for a problem," she jeered as her daughter was directed to pull off her hijab.

The teachers, however, said the children were free to wear the headscarves outside the school premises.

-Outrage

Gimba Kakanda, a public affairs analyst, said the action taken by the school amounted to "targeted discrimination".

"This video of students of The International School, Ibadan being forced to take off their hijabs before entering the school premises is dangerous in a world fighting to accommodate harmless differences. Banning headscarves is a targeted discrimination," he tweeted.

"From New York to London, the world is making laws to accommodate diversity and recognize faith-based differences, [while] some local 'international' school in Ibadan is making a law to ban the hijab…We keep creating problems where there is none."

Saint Hebrymore, another commentator, disagreed with Kakanda. 

"School is not mosque or church. Dress with your school uniform and go to school. When you go out from school, you can continue with your faith."

In a landmark judgment in 2016, Nigeria's Appeal Court ruled that the hijab qualifies as a constitutional right and should be allowed in school or anywhere, striking down the ruling of a lower court that had upheld its ban in southwestern Lagos state. The government has since appealed the ruling.

The hijab crisis at the Ibadan school has also become the subject of litigation.

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