National Assembly starting religious crisis over hijab bill: CAN

National Assembly Complex

he Christian Association of Nigeria has urged the National Assembly to throw out a bill before the House of Representatives seeking to legalise the wearing of hijab in the country.

General Secretary of CAN, Joseph Bade Daramola, said in a statement on Monday, “The Christian Association of Nigeria calls on the leadership of the National Assembly to suspend a bill before the House of Representatives seeking to institutionalise the use of hijab in the country. 

“It is ill-timed and uncalled for.”

The bill, ‘Religious Discrimination (Prohibition, Prevention) Bill, 2021,’ seeks to provide a mechanism for enforcing certain provisions of the constitution and other international laws that recognise a female Muslim’s right to wear hijab in private and public establishments in Nigeria. 

CAN warned that the bill would not promote religious peace in Nigeria. Africa’s most populous country had witnessed many religious violent crises in the past.

“Honestly speaking, it is not the wearing of hijab that is our problem,” explained CAN. “It is the legislation of the wearing of it in private schools whose proprietors have a different culture to that of wearing hijab. If anyone travels to Rome, it is common saying that he or she should do as the Romans do.

The religious body added, “Why should a Muslim student come to a Christian school which operates under different dressing culture and insist on their own culture? That appears provocative and disrespectful.”

CAN argued that legislating the wearing of hijab in private schools would lead to trouble. Abandoning school uniform for religious garb, according to CAN, will divide students along religious lines and further polarise society

“Legislating the wearing of hijab in private schools would lead to the trouble that those who started it may not be able to handle. Abandoning school uniform for religious dressing is going to divide the students among religious lines and further polarise our society,” it affirmed.

CAN further pointed out, “Should the children of Ifa worshippers (god of divination) wear Ifa costume to school as well, etc.? Is that not going to bring confusion? Will the wearing of the religious dress make one student brighter in class than the other? What are we legislating for?

“We are not against the wearing of hijab in public and Islamic schools, but our schools should not be included unless those states are looking for trouble.”

CAN also revealed that it had directed schools under its purview to shut down.

We have resolved to close down our schools and colleges to protest against this ungodly and disrespectful policy. We should return to the status quo ante where we were before the politicisation of hijab. Let those who want to be wearing hijab go to schools where it is allowed.”

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