University of Ibadan International School, UIIS, is currently facing a crisis over the campaign by the parents of muslim students in the school to allow their children the use of hijab. The school has been shut down following the development.
In this interview by SAKIBU OLOKOJOBI, the chairman of the ISI Muslim Parents Forum, championing the hijab cause, Alhaji Abdur Rahman Balogun, speaks on the crisis and the possible next line of action. Excerpt:
When was the association of Muslim parents at the University of Ibadan International School formed and what is the motive behind it? We are asking this question against the backdrop of the existence of a Parents-Teachers Association which is meant to take care of the interest of all.
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ISI Muslim Parents Forum was formed about five years ago and it is solely to take care of the welfare of our Muslim children in the school. We are also members of PTA body.
Your association is advocating for the use of hijab in the school. What suddenly informed the campaign, considering that the school has been existing for many years without such a policy?
Our children have been suffering in silence for years and we cannot afford to continue in that way; the children have been suffering in silence in the areas of segregation of classes of Muslim children from others, denial of worship, barring muslim girls from using hijab, lack of place of worship among other denials
Had there been any audience with the school authority over these issues before your children stormed the school in hijab? If there was any meeting on it, what was the outcome?
Parents wrote several letters before now and they were not acknowledged. Even the recent letter dated October 26, which was widely publicized did not get any response from the management. Till date, no response.
Your request has been met with stiff resistance by the school authority. What is your view about the action of the school?
The action of the school is barbaric, intolerant, crude, despicable and unconstitutional. It is not in line with all known norms and civility as some of our children who adorned hijab were locked up in the school library for hours last week Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Also, they were locked outside the school gate on Thursday and Friday.
Your request has been rejected. What is your next line of action? Do you plan to go to court or withdraw your children from the school?
We will seek redress in court if we are pushed to the wall to fight for the fundamental human rights of our children.
What is your thought about the chances that your action may cause a religious tension which may get out of hand?
It is the action of Mrs. Phebean Olowe that is causing the tension. A girl, Aminat Akinlabi, wore hijab in that school during the 2017/2018 academic session and there was no tension. So, why is the Principal generating tension by denying our children?
There has been increase in the use of hijab in schools. Of what significance is the use of hijab to the injunctions of Islam? What does the Quran say about it?
It is a divine injunction as contained in many verses of the Qur’an. It is not for fashion for a Muslim girl but obedience to her Creator, Allah and a constitutional right in Nigeria. See Quran 24 verse 31 and Quran 33 Verse 59.
Some see the use of hijab more of a fashion trend than efforts to adhere to religious injunction. What is your view?
It is not. It is a must for all Muslim girls and women. Again, see Quran 24 verse 31 and Quran 33 Verse 59.
There has been an increase in the use of hijab by Muslims these days. However, one is at a loss as to the use of hijab when the person wearing it is putting on leggings or tight-fitting trousers showing all her shapes as against Islamic rules. What is your comment?
May Allah forgive them as that is not the prescribed adornment by their Creator.
You belong to different Islamic organisations. What are you doing to sensitise Muslim women to the correct use of hijab?
We carry out seminars, lectures, sensitisation and role modeling as well as mentoring of young girls by their mothers who adorn hijabs and have achieved professionally.
Beyond the campaign for hijab, what other things are you advocating for in the school?
We are advocating for freedom of worship, stoppage of distribution of bibles to Muslims, segregation of classes, lopsidedness in the appointment of school prefects among several others.
How best do you think the crisis over use of hijab can best be resolved?
It can best be resolved through tolerance, abiding by the rule of law, fairness, equity and justice.