Muslim Media Watch Group of Nigeria (MMWG) has cautioned against religious intolerance following the incident that took place during the Common Entrance Examination, penultimate Saturday in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.
Some Teachers were said to have positioned themselves at St. Anthony Secondary Ilorin removing hijabs from Muslim candidates and throwing it away on pretext that such dressing was not allowed in their school.
According to a statement signed by the National Coordinator of MMWG, Abdullahi Ibrahim, the action of the teachers nearly precipitated religious riot as parents and guardians of the affected candidates insisted that their wards must write the examinations with their hijab on.
“For years, some Christians under the aegis of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), have been intimidating Muslim students in schools originally owned by Christian Missionaries in Kwara State.
“The harassment and intimidation took various forms including prevention of use of hijab by female students, removal of Arabic and Islamic Studies from the school curriculum, rejection of teachers of Islamic Studies and Arabic when posted by the state Teaching Service Commission, rejection of Muslim students admitted into such schools, denial of freedom to perform their afternoon prayers during school hours and denial to hold Maolud Nabiyy programme by the Muslim Students’ Society.”
The group further stated that it took the intervention of the state government to put a stop to the acts following declaration that other than privately-established schools, all primary and post-primary schools in the state are owned and under its control adding that the missionary schools were allowed to retain their names for posterity.
“Consequently, the state government reminded all the proprietors that since the schools are under the state government, freedom of worship must prevail and all restrictions and molestations or discrimination against any student on the basis of religion, must forthwith stop,” the group said.
It added that the recent unprovoked attack on Muslim candidates by removing their hijabs at St. Anthony Secondary School is “an assault and criminal offence that could lead to religious riot and affront to the Kwara State Government that is doing all within its powers to maintain peace, law and order throughout the state.
“The issue of hijab has been settled in Osun and Lagos with both governments losing their cases up to the Court of Appeal. If anybody or group wants to fight Muslim students in any part of the country today on the issue of hijab, the only option for them is to proceed to the Supreme Court of Nigeria.”
MMWG warned that the idea of stopping Muslim students at the gates of any school for using hijab, will no longer be tolerated, rather it will be visited with serious lawful rejection.
The group however commended the Kwara State Government for its prompt intervention on the religious fracas that could have broken-out due to acts of religious fanaticism and intolerance demonstrated by authorities of St. Anthony Secondary School, Ilorin on the day of the Common Entrance examination.