Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, has condemned the discrimination against Muslim students of the International School Ibadan, ISI owns by the University of Ibadan, describing the incident as “the height of religious apartheid, a show of shame and the mother of all apartheid”.
A video showing the management of the school, forcing Muslim students to remove their Hijabs about 100 meters from the school gate had went viral on social media on Wednesday, July 3 and Thursday, 4.
In a statement by the Founder and Director of the human rights body,
Professor Ishaq Akintola, on Sunday, described the school management action as provocative and barbaric.
The statement reads, “The video of officials of ISI recently trending on social media is not only provocative, it is nauseating, unethical, repugnant and barbaric. It is nothing short of the height of religious intolerance, a show of shame and the mother of all apartheid.
“We find it difficult to believe this is happening under the watch of an internationally recognized higher institution and premier university in Nigeria. This incident diminishes the reputation of the University of Ibadan as a citadel of learning and a center of excellence. It takes the institution back to the Stone Age. Academic culture demands openness, moderation and liberal disposition particularly on matters of religion.
“The action of officials of ISI is a flagrant violation of Section 38 (i) & (ii) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which stipulates that every Nigerian citizen has the right to ‘practice and manifest’ his or her faith.
“In addition, by causing open embarrassment to the parents and the victims, the school has openly contravened the right to the dignity of the human person as entrenched in Section 34 (b) & (c) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended (2011).
“This stereotyping of female Muslim students at ISI constitutes an assault on the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Article 4, Clause 1 & 2 which says, ‘Human beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person.’
“ISI school’s show of shame also exposes the school’s lack of respect for the religious feelings of those female Muslim students, their parents and the sensitivities of Nigerian Muslims in general. It therefore infringed upon Article 9 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights & Fundamental Freedoms which contains a call to have ‘respect for the religious feelings of believers…
“That is not all. Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Right, (ICCPR) guarantees the right to freedom of religion unconditionally. The UN HRC General Comment No. 22 on article 18 of ICCPR reveals a strong support for religious freedom, particularly the use of hijab.
“The relevant provision of the General Comment goes thus: ‘The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion in article 18 is far reaching and profound…the fundamental character of these freedoms is also reflected in the fact that this provision cannot be derogated from, even in time of public emergency…The freedom to manifest religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching encompasses a broad range of acts…may include the wearing of distinctive clothing or head covering…
“Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights also lays emphasis on ‘Right to freedom from Discrimination on grounds of race, nationality or religion …’
“All the above international legal instruments empower us to externalize the struggle if the authorities fail to act.
“MURIC will have no option than to drag the Nigerian government, the National Assembly, authorities of the University of Ibadan, its Council and Senate Mrs. Phebean Olowe as well as the governments of all South Western states that allow the persecution of female Muslim students using hijab or disallows the latter from using hijab to the United Nations for actively persecuting and profiling the girl-child in Nigeria”.