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Don’t Ban the wearing of Hijab because Its their rights – Okey Wali

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The President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Okey Wali has opposed to the ban about stopping the wearing of Hijab by the female Muslim faithful, that it has religious as well as cultural meaning, and nobody can take away that right from them.

“The security agencies should find lasting solutions to the country’s security challenges rather than place a ban on wearing of Hijab as that is an easy way out,” he said.

Also, leader of the Northern Civil Society Coalition and Senator representing Kaduna Central Senatorial zone, Senator Shehu Sani in an interview was asked this same question on whether there should be a ban on hijab. His response: “It is not possible to ban hijab which is the muslim religion’s attire in Nigeria. Because one girl simply laced herself with bombs and detonated it in the public does not mean every girl wearing hijab is also a terrorist. Terrorists do not need hijab to cover a suicide belt or bomb. He or she can even wear suit”. While I agree with the NBA president and Senator Sani that it would be unfair to profile any Muslim girl wearing hijab as a suicide bomber, it has been established that the suicide bombers hide explosives under this voluminous attire. The suicide bombers have not been found to be wearing suit, neither have they been discovered by security agencies, to be wearing babariga or agbada. It is thus imperative that having established this fact, the reasonable thing to do is take measure to curb this. As much as one respects the Muslim religion, one should balance this with the need to save lives. The question we should ask is whether it would make more sense to ban hijab/burka and fore- stall its use to terminate lives and hurt the feelings of a few opposed to its ban or allow Boko Haram to continue with their deadly act, hiding under the guise of piety and religious sentiment which hijab/burka seems to confer. The NBA president equally said that our security agencies should find a lasting solution to the security lapses leading to suicide bombing, the question is; is banning of Hijab not one of the solutions to the security challenges? Solutions cannot be manufactured, they had to come from our collective experience and the exigencies of the time. What has been discovered, based on experience is that the suicide-bombers hide their belt of explosives under their robe, it is based on this that a solution must be fashioned. That is just our current reality, it is not about sentiment.

Last year, Nigeria experienced so many of such suicide bombing by hijab/burka- wearing bombers. This has continued till date with people believing that some of these female bombers are some of the Chibok girls taken away over a year ago and who have now been brainwashed by the deadly sect to carry out the act.

In February, two hijab-wearing women said to be in their late 20s in Yobe State killed two people when they detonated explosive devices hidden beneath their clothings.On February 11, in Borno State, another female suicide bomber in a burka attacked a crowded market, killing seven people and seriously injuring 20 others.

Prior to the February suicide bombing, a girl believed to be no more than 10 years old detonated explosives hidden under her burka at a crowded Maiduguri Monday market, killing 20 people and wounding many more. Also in May, a 10 year-old girl detonated a bomb concealed under her hijab, killing five and injuring many others at Bayan Tasha motor park in Damaturu, Yobe State.

Also on Wednesday, two female suicide bombers wearing the hijab also detonated their bombs leading to the death of nearly 20 people while several others were injured in a Kano GSM market.

So why has it become difficult for our government to take a stand on this matter and ban the wearing of this attire in public places? Are we saying the sentiment attached to the wearing of hijab is more important than the lives of many Nigerians being wasted by hijab/burka-wearing suicide bombers?

Indeed, banning hijab would not be a first in the Muslim world countries especially in Africa. Countries with similar suicide bombing experience by hijab/ burka- wearing suicide attackers such as Cameroun, Chad, Egypt, Congo and more recently, Senegal have all banned the use of hijab in public places.

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