MURIC Petitions NASS Over Hijab, Muslim Holidays
By Centus Nweze
Muslim Rights Concerns, MURIC, has asked the Constitutional Review Panel at the National Assembly, as a matter of urgency, to review extant laws in the constitution that violates the use of hijab, the Muslim dress covering, national holidays and dressing in the security agencies which according to the group offends Islamic sensibilities.
In memorandum signed by Ishaq Akintola, a professor, and coordinator of MURIC, the group stated that the constitution as it is infringes on the right and identity of the Muslims in the country.
“Immigration officials, workers of electoral bodies, school authorities, employers of labour, etc, engage in regular stereotyping of Muslims,” explained MURIC
As result, the Islamic group continued, Muslims are denied possession of international travel documents, driving licence, identity cards, and so on.
“They are also disenfranchised. Female Muslim students who wear hijab are locked out of schools. Employers and senior colleagues intimidate female Muslim employees for the same reason.
“As a result of this obnoxious and illegal practice, thousands of Muslims have been scared away from applying for travelling documents.
“By discriminating against Muslims in the Immigration department, the former are robbed of immense opportunities in the areas of education, economic empowerment, international exposure, etc.
“Also, by ordering Muslims to jettison their religious identities before their pictures can be captured and by rejecting Muslim names in their records, some government officials succeed in falsifying Nigeria’s demographic data in favour of Christianity,” MURIC said.
The group argues that there is no law in the country which supports the profiling of Muslims by government officials.
According to MURIC, every Nigerian citizen has a right to possess an international passport, a driving licence, identity card, voter’s card, etc and nothing should be done to stop any law-abiding citizen from obtaining those documents.
“There is also no existing legal instrument which stipulates that Muslims should be robbed of their religious identity before they can be given those documents. In addition, government officials have no legal backing for usurping the fundamental rights of Muslims,” the group said.
On the holiday matter, MURIC observed that Nigerians enjoy a total of eight public holidays in a year. These are Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Id al-Kabir, Id al-Fitr and Maulud an-Nabiyy.
Five of the eight holidays, according to the group, belong to Christians.
“Only three (3) holidays belong to Muslims, viz, Id al-Kabir, Id al-Fitr and Maulud an-Nabiyy.
“There is open inequality in the issue of holidays in Nigeria particularly if there is evidence that Muslims who have less need more (and they do).
“Nigerian Muslims have been clamouring for the declaration of 1 st Muharram of the Hijrah calendar (i.e. the first day of the Islamic year) to be declared as a public holiday for decades.
“Government has not deemed it fit to listen.
“The Muslims therefore have a feeling of rejection, marginalization, denial of the dividends of democracy and lack of sense of belonging.
“Government is the father of all. Therefore, government has a duty, in loco parentis, to treat all groups equally.
“1st Muharram of the Hijrah calendar should be declared a public holiday to bring the total number of public holidays enjoyed by Muslims to four (4) while the Christians continue to enjoy a higher number of five public holidays,” MURIC said.