Some Muslim groups have said they will use every lawful means to resist any attempt by President Muhammadu Buhari to place a ban on veils for Muslim women in the country.
These Muslim groups which include the Muslim Rights Concern, Muslim Ummah of South-West of Nigeria and Muslim Students Society of Nigeria told SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday that the proposal by the Federal Government along with some West African leaders was unacceptable.
President Buhari along with other Heads of States and Government of the Economic Community of West African Countries on had on Friday called for a ban on all dress codes that tend to hide people’s identity.
The Federal Government was part of a meeting held during the week by the Economic Community of West African States which issued a communiqué on Friday after the two-day meeting calling for a ban on face veils as the region contend with the challenges of terrorism, particularly from Boko Haram.
This was revealed in a communiqué obtained by our correspondent on ECOWAS’ website, after the regional body held its 48th Ordinary Session in Abuja, which was followed by a ceremony to commemorate the 40th anniversary of its creation.
The statement said, “Similarly, the Heads of State and Government are of the view that certain dress codes, which make identification of the persons concerned difficult, may considerably hinder actions geared towards protecting people and properties. They therefore urge all Member States to take, in line with their national realities, appropriate measures to ban any dress code that may make it difficult to identify people.”
In separate telephone interviews with our correspondent, the various Islamic bodies stated that the proposed ban on Muslim dress codes was unacceptable.
The National Amir of the MSSN, Muhammad Jameel Muhammad, stated that the proposed ban or restriction would not be accepted by Muslims.
He said, “We are making our position known next week (this week). We will not allow our fundamental rights to be trampled upon. We will use every possible lawful means to ensure that the proposed ban does not happen. We are ready to take the matter to court to defend our rights.”
Speaking in a similar vein, the Director of the Muslim rights group, MURIC, Professor Ishaq Akintola, said that group does not agree with the idea of banning Muslims’ veils in order to fight against insurgents in the country. According to him, neither the Federal Government nor the ECOWAS has the power to stop Muslims from wearing veils.
“We do not agree with any ban on veil. Muslims are free to use hijab. Every Muslim woman has the right to. Banning of the veil is not a solution to countering terrorism. I don’t agree any form of such a ban will be acceptable to Muslims. The country’s security agencies should know what to do to curb terrorism.
“Banning a particular dress of Muslims is not the way to go. They do not have the power to ban it. ECOWAS does not have the power to ban the culture of a people,” Prof. Akintola said.
The Executive Secretary of MUSWEN, Professor Dawud Noibi, said that the veil used by Muslims all over the world including Nigeria is sensitive to the values of Islam and Muslims.
Noibi said, “I would imagine that veil is something very sensitive to the values of Muslims and Islam. It is something Muslims hold very dear – proper dressing by women; it is part of the Islamic injunction.
“Some other ways of preventing terrorism should be sourced (by the Federal Government). I said this as a general comment because I have not read the communiqué. Religious values (as the use of veils by Muslims) require very careful handling.”
Meanwhile, efforts to reach the leader of the Nigeria Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, Professor Ishaq Oloyede, were futile as telephone calls made to his phone were not answered and text message sent to him not replied.
Also, phone calls and a text message sent to the National Missioner of Nasrulahi l Fatihi Society of Nigeria, Azeez Onike, and the Jama’atu Nasril Islam were not responded to.