The Islamic human rights group, Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, has petitioned the National Assembly over the non-declaration of public holiday by the Federal Government for the celebration of Islamic New Year, otherwise referred to as Hijrah Day.
The Islamic New Year kicked off on Monday.
MURIC said Hijrah Day was the equivalent of January 1, and deserved to be declared a public holiday.
It described as unfair to muslims, the “nonchalant attitude of successive governments at the center for more than two decades.”
The complaints of the muslim body is contained in a statement issued by its director, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
MURIC said the National Assembly should not wait until reckless and violent groups hijack the agitation for a declaration of public holiday for Hijrah Day before it took action.
MURIC argued: “What is good for the goose is good for the gander. It is unfair of FG to recognize 1st January for Christians while closing its eyes to 1st Muharram. It is one of the ways by which government has marginalized Nigerian Muslims. This must stop. A government which seeks peaceful coexistence should practice parity, justice and fairness.
“We complained last year by issuing a statement on 6th September, 2018 entitled ‘Declare Hijrah Day Next Week’. That was one week to 1st Muharram 1440. Yet nothing happened. In actual fact, our statement of 6th September, 2018 was a follow up to our press release of 3rd January, 2018 on the same matter.
“We have been making this particular demand on a yearly basis for more than fifteen (15) years but FG continues to ignore our demand. It must be emphasized that Islamic organizations (not MURIC alone) have been making this demand through petitions and appeals dating back to the 60s but successive administrations have turned the deaf ear to their pleas.
“What kind of language does government want aggrieved Muslims to adopt before getting attention? What is FG goading us into? Several options are on the table: rallies, demonstrations, sit-ins, boycotts, legal action, etc. The only option we will never pick is violence because the motto of MURIC is ‘Dialogue, No Violence’.
“But even the other options have their disadvantages. For instance, rallies and demonstrations can be hijacked by hoodlums to cause mayhem thereby tarnishing the image of the organisers. They also have the tendency of hurting innocent people. This is why we always hesitate to organize rallies and demonstrations. They should be the last options.
“In view of the nonchalant attitude of successive governments at the center for more than two decades, nay, since independence, we are constrained to appeal to the National Assembly (NASS) to take up this issue as a matter of urgent public interest. Nigerian lawmakers should not wait until reckless and violent groups hijack this agitation.”