As part of activities marking the World Hijab Day, the Coalition of Nigerian Muslim Women, Wednesday, decried alleged discrimination against Muslim women at their work place.
The group, led by the Hijab Right Advocacy Initiative, spoke at a press conference in Lagos.
According to Mutiat Orolu, the leader of the group and convener of the conference, wearing of Hijab is not the culture of Arabs as erroneously held by some people or a fashion accessory that the Muslim woman may discard at will.
“It is a religious duty and an obligation on every Muslim woman in the observance of her faith. And this right to believe in and practise one‘s chosen faith is an inalienable right of every human being, as entrenched in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999(as amended),” she said.
Quoting sections 38, sub-sections 1 and 2, Mrs. Orolu maintained that wearing of the Hijab by the Muslim woman was the practical application of these provisions in the Nigerian constitution.
Mrs. Orolu, who is also a lawyer, narrated the ordeals of Muslim women in the society, stressing that their rights were being violated.
“Muslim women who choose to wear the Hijab face this (ordeal) and even worse every day while trying to get a job or even keep the ones they are currently in. In some cases, they have been forced to choose between having a job and practising their faith!
“One thing we all seem to agree on is that violence against women is wrong in all its forms, whether it is physical, emotional or psychological. Asking a Muslim woman to remove her Hijab is a form of violence against women.
“It should have no place in a progressive society like ours. As more people, women inclusive, are getting more educated and moving into the work force, Muslim women who choose to wear the Hijab still face discrimination in their work places and in the careers of their choice. Rather than discriminate, we should encourage work place diversity,” she said.
The legal practitioner, however, called on the media to be fair in its reportage of issues, noting that its role is vital to public perception of issues.
The group also urged the general public to accord Muslim women the freedom to practice their religion, as expressly stated in the Nigerian constitution.
“All we Hijabis want is the Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion; Freedom from Discrimination; Freedom from Violence against Women; Fair and accurate Representation in the Media; Inclusiveness in the Work Place and the right to be a citizen of this country just like everyone else.”
World Hijab Day is an annual event founded by Nazma Khan in 2013. This event takes place on February 1 each year in about 100 countries. It was borne out of the need to identify with Muslim women who face discrimination everyday due to the observance of their faith, the group said.