From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has asked the National Assembly to suspend work on a bill before the House of Representatives seeking to institutionalise the use of hijab, saying it is ill-timed and uncalled for.
The bill titled “Religious Discrimination (Prohibition, Prevention) Bill, 2021” seeks to provide a mechanism for enforcing certain provisions of the Constitution and other international laws that recognizes the right of female to adorn hijab in both public and private establishments in Nigeria.
CAN’s intervention was in response to the recent violence that erupted in Kwara due to disagreement over the use of hijab in public schools in the state, especially in Christian-owned schools.
CAN General Secretary, Joseph Daramola, in a statement, wondered what the bill sponsors wanted to gain from it other than to compound the religious tension and security problem in the wearing of hijab in public and Christian schools.
“Candidly speaking, it’s not the wearing of hijab that is our problem, it’s the legislation of the wearing of it in private schools, especially schools whose proprietors have different culture to that of wearing of hijab.
“It’s common saying that anyone that travels to Rome should do as the Romans do since he or she was not forced to come. Any Christian pupil who goes to a Muslim school should abide by their practices there and vice versa.
“Why should a Muslim student come to a Christian school which operates under different dressing culture and insist on her own culture? That appears provocative and disrespectful. Legislating the wearing of hijab in private schools would lead to the trouble that those who started it may not be able to handle.
“Abandoning school uniform for religious dressing is going to divide the students along religious lines and further polarise our society. Should the children of Ifa worshipper (god of divination) wear Ifa costume to the school as well? Is that not going to bring confusion? Will the wearing of religious dress make one student brighter in class than the other? What are we legislating for?”
Daramola called on Christians in every legislative house, including the National Assembly, to arise and speak for the Church if they had not compromised their faith for political reasons and if they failed to do so, God Himself will ask them of their stewardship one day and equally fight for His Church.