Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Hijab seeks headway in Osun State, SW Nigeria

Following well-established patterns and precedents, played out in several countries all over the world, Islamists in South West Nigeria feel sufficiently empowered to make a powerful push to enforcing the Islamic dressing code in public schools in the state. This is no spurious allegation by any political party or state security for that matter. The crudely concocted plan is right in public domain. Championed by an Islamic faithful, Professor Is-haq Akintola of the Lagos State University, the first phase is right on course. The plan is simple, brazen, and makes no pretensions to finesse. Is-haq’s essay on his blog, titled Letter to Yoruba governors (http://drishaqakintola.blogspot.com/2012/04/hijab-letter-to-yoruba-governors.html) would provide a pseudo-intellectual basis for subsequent action by the Osun state governor – who is clearly the major addressee of the essay. “Your Excellencies, Ogbeni, Omoluabi, As-Salaam Alaykum” the article had began. The two additional titles used are exclusive titles adopted by Governor Aregbesola; and he is mentioned later in the body of the essay as having being previously involved on the subject matter. In any case, among his peers, Governor Aregbesola is easily the undisputed Sharia Champion in the region. The article, as is common with militant Islamism, was replete with thinly-veiled threats. “Signals coming from certain recent incidents in the region” are threatening the long-standing peace,” Is-haq warned. He seemed oblivious to the fact that it is he and his fellow Islamic activists that are disturbing the status quo with their insistence that school uniforms should no longer be uniform in the state. Rather, Muslim-labelled pupils must have their separate uniforms and presumably as many other religions or sects as wish could have theirs as well. One wonders what this has got to do with providing qualitative education! For good measure, Prof Is-haq threatened that the matter may result in “extremists from outside” the region capitalizing on it to foment trouble – a veiled reference to Boko Haram! (He was to mention BH directly by name later in the article). The professor of Islamic studies could not really articulate a basis to explain why Muslims have suddenly woken up to realize that the standard dressing by female students in public schools is “fit only for night clubs” and would certainly be the precursors for “HIV and AIDS, early pregnancy, juvenile delinquency, etc”. His attempt to refer to history was very clumsy. He seems to be saying that Muslim school children used to wear the hijab before the British colonialists “forcefully reversed this trend”. But that of course would not make any sense seeing there were no uniform-donning public schools before the advent of British missionaries (not the colonialists who were mainly interested in trade). He therefore concocted a very unreasonable and incredible scenario: that supposedly Christian teachers were beating up Muslim “students who wear the hijab outside the school premises”. He particularly referred to Iwo as the site of one such altercations. It would have been crazy enough for any teacher to beat up a female student on the streets simply because she was dressed in Islamic garb; it would be doubly crazy to do so in Iwo, the base of the now nationally famous TAWUNIL organization, and where it is a common street-sight, seeing female folks compelled to put on the hijab and flowing gowns irrespective of weather conditions – night and day. Ominously, Is-haq warned that despite the supposed “skilled diplomacy and personal involvement of the state governor to douse tensions” at Iwo, “Yet the last may not have been heard of the (matter)”. The big question is why this sudden life-and-death clamour for an Islamic uniform in public schools? (It is already mandatory in private Islamic schools in the state, and students from Christian homes who choose Islamic private schools for whatever reason are required to be likewise attired. In the Northern public schools which Prof Is-haq also referred to – it is mandatory that all students, whatever their religious affiliation, be uniformly attired in the Islamic garbs). Prof Is-haq himself provided some of the answers when he wrote: “What is in a school uniform? Muslims strongly suspect that a cut-throat game of numbers lies behind the opposition of Christians to Muslim demand for use of hijab in schools.” Cut-throat game of numbers. Now that’s a game Islamic activists are obsessed with. In fact, as we pointed out in a recent edition of CA! (Vol 14 No 6), that is precisely why accurate national census with religious affiliations indicated has proved impossible in Nigeria. Muslims always oppose and frustrate any measure to get accurate numbers, so they can go on quoting their self-deluding 50:50 figure as the Christian:Muslim ratio in Nigeria. In any case Christians know they can never use school uniform to reflect the number of people who have committed their lives unto the Lord Jesus. ”The cloak does not make the monk” it is said. It is Muslims that are obsessed with the idea. And that’s why, for instance, any Muslim who attains to any high public office is soon visited by the local Ummah and compelled to begin to use some Islamic names – so as to facilitate counting for their number game. Even more importantly, based on happenings elsewhere in the world, it is clear that the hijab is one effective way of forcefully bringing Muslim girls under control. For instance, in London’s Tower Hamlet, the Taliban regularly issues death threats to women who refuse to wear the Hijab. (see http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org); and in the Minya province of Egypt , Salafis are currently threatening to kidnap any girl (Christian or otherwise) found not wearing the hijab (http://www.copts-united.com/article.php?I=758&A=33765). Terror-stricken parents are reportedly keeping their daughters indoors, thereby missing school! Introduction of the hijab will be a direct way of requiring Muslim girls to declare their allegiance to Islam - and it is well known how Islam treats its apostates. As a matter of well-established doctrine and well-demonstrated practice, a Muslim who decides to stop being one is regarded as simply not fit to continue to live! Governor Aregbesola is currently on the spot for a number of allegations. While some he has refuted – such as his trying to substitute state security personnel with personal Islamic guards from the TAWUNIL organization (he says he is only supplementing with the guards); others his fans cheerfully admit as true – such as his openly and rancorously threatening to remove the governor of another state from office for the gross “sin” of refusing to change political affiliations. Hardly Omoluabi, to say the least! (see details in www.osundefender.org/?p=27647 for instance). Our candid advice will be that the governor squarely face the business of governance to justify and sustain the considerable goodwill he still enjoys from the state’s citizenry. In the meantime, Governor Aregbesola seems to be going ahead full-steam with the Islamic garb agenda. For now, he has decided that all public school students should wear the same uniform all over the state – and the state would design and provide the uniforms - with hijabs included, naturally!. (http://www.sunnewsonline.com/webpages/news/national/2012/apr/21/national-21-04-2011-08.html). Hence if this idea is eventually implemented, students will no longer be identifiable as students of particular schools (e.g. during school debates or sporting events), but rather as Muslim students versus Christian/animist/etc students. Quite sickening.

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