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10:23, 21 September 2016 Wednesday

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Nigerian state fights court ruling on Muslim headscarf
Nigerian state fights court ruling on Muslim headscarf

Court of Appeal had overturned school ban on hijab but Lagos State is challenging the decision

World Bulletin / News Desk

Lagos State in Nigeria is challenging an appeal court ruling legalizing the wearing of Muslim headscarves in schools, even as millions of children flock back to class from the summer vacation.

Tajudeen Balogun, one of the attorneys for the Muslim students, told Anadolu Agency in a telephone interview on Tuesday Lagos filed the appeal on Sept. 16 but added the move did not mean the Muslim students could not wear their head covering.

“Until the application for stay is heard and granted, the position of the law is that the hijab is lawful in schools across Lagos,” according to the lawyer.

Lagos’s attorney-general Mosediq Adeniji Kazeem did not respond to Anadolu Agency's request for comment. The government has also declined to speak publicly on the appeal.

Nigeria’s Court of Appeal on July 21 overturned an earlier ruling by a lower court which permitted a decision by the state government to outlaw the wearing of the Muslim headscarves on school premises.

According to the appeal court, the ban violated the right of Muslims to freedom of religion and exhibition of same.

The government claimed allowing some pupils to wear headscarves would alter uniformity in schools, an argument the court rejected.

As students resumed from their long vacation this week, the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria (MSSN) called on the education authorities and teachers to respect the existing court ruling on the head covering.

“A situation where a principal or teacher will be seen punishing, threatening, assaulting or harassing a student for wearing hijab, after the judiciary has granted it, will amount to not only contempt of court but a betrayal of literacy, ridiculing of education and an abuse of reasoning,” MSSN President Saheed Ashafa said in a statement.

The Muslim Teachers’ Association of Nigeria told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday that several complaints had been reported about some teachers directing students to remove their head covering.

“Some school principals and teachers are trying to be funny. They are attempting to stop students putting on hijab on the grounds that they have not received circular to that effect. Is a circular superior to a valid court judgment?” the body told Anadolu Agency in an email.

 


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