Hijab Controversy: Another complainant emerges; accuses law school of victimisation

Nigerian Law School graduate, Amasa Firdaus
Nigerian Law School graduate, Amasa Firdaus. [Photo credit: Al Jazeera]

Another Muslim law graduate, Aisha Zubair, has come out to say she was victimised and forced to remove her Hijab by officials of the Council of Legal Education and the Law School during the last call-to-bar exercise.

Ms. Zubair, who made her claim known to PREMIUM TIMES through the Muslim Rights Council, MURIC, said she was never allowed to put her Hijab on despite pleas.

Ms. Zubair’s claim is coming against the backdrop of the controversy generated over the barring of Amasa Firdaus, another law graduate, from the exercise.

Ms. Amasa was barred from accessing the venue of the exercise for refusing to remove her Hijab.

The issue has continued to generate heated debates across the nation with the House of Representatives promising an investigation of the matter.

MURIC quoted Ms. Zubair as narrates her experience at the venue of the exercise thus:
“I was called to the Nigerian Bar on the 12th day of December, 2017 in the morning. Some other sisters and I were on the queue together to enter the hall. At the entrance, the law school lecturer there demanded for our hijab, she asked that we remove both the hijab and the cap and give it to her. She demanded same of those wearing ordinary cap too.

“We begged to go and remove it properly in the toilet and she obliged. We were allowed to enter only when we had removed everything from our heads. When I went to my seat, I donned the hijab back on but I was approached about twice to remove the hijab, as other sisters were approached too.

”When the programme started, I put it back on, tucked it into the collarrete and placed the wig on it. When it was my turn to be called to the stage, I approached the stage with the hijab on, took a bow like everyone else but did not shake the hands of the bencher there. I was given my certificate like everyone else and I proceeded to my seat.

“When I got to my seat, a law school lecturer was waiting there and she started shouting at me and hurling insults at me for daring to wear the hijab in the hall saying I wanted to disgrace them. She demanded I remove the hijab and throw it on the floor, which I did, then she started to rub the hijab on the floor. Then she kicked it around several times before asking a guard to guard the hijab and not allow me retrieve it. Then she came back with another lecturer to seize the certificate I had just collected from me saying it was order from above for doing what I did. I begged but they didn’t listen. After the ceremony, I went to them and after so much pleas, I was given back the certificate with a stern warning.”

PREMIUM TIMES could not immediately get a reaction from the Council of Legal Education and the Law School at the time of filing report.

MURIC in a statement on Thursday commended the House of Representatives for wading into the controversy.

“Nonetheless, we wish to call the attention of the Committee on Justice and Judiciary which has been saddled with the task of unearthing the truth about this matter to the fact that AbdulSalaam Firdaus Amasa was not the only female Muslim law graduate whose Allah-given fundamental human right was violated on that day and at that event,” the rights group said.

The organization alleged further that, “All the female Muslim law graduates who wore hijab to the event were forced to remove their hijab but one of them, Aisha Zubair by name, was treated like an ordinary criminal and subjected to public disgrace. She suffered serious psychological trauma which still haunts her to date as a result of being forced to appear ‘half nude’ in public. We must add here that an average female Muslim, who is used to wearing hijab is naturally sensitive to being made to appear in public without it. It breaks them down emotionally.

“MURIC takes serious objection to the treatment of Aisha Zubair. It is tyrannical, repressive and horrible. We urge the Committee on Justice and the Judiciary to consider this information during its investigations. The lecturer who traumatised this lady must be fished out and punished according to the law of the land. She has subjected Aisha Zubair to public opprobrium, inflicted emotional injury on her and assaulted her personal dignity. This action violates Section 34 (i) (a) of the 2011 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

“Not only that, she has provoked all Nigerian Muslims by treating the hijab in such a contemptuous manner. It is a hate action capable of igniting a monumental religious crisis whose outcome no one can predict. Only due punishment can satisfy Nigerian Muslims and calm frayed nerves. This law teacher is a disgrace to the law profession, a square peg in a round hole. She must be taught a lesson as a deterrent to many others like her.”

The organisation appealed to Nigerians “who have been provoked by the ugly incident to exercise patience and wait for the House Committee on Justice and the Judiciary to submit its report.”

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