The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has accused the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) of nursing bad intention towards Muslims over the hijab saga. The Muslim rights advocacy group was reacting to CAN’s latest statement in which it said Muslim female soldiers were free to wear hijab on military uniform if that would deflect bullets (http://saharareporters.com/2021/04/09/muslim-military-women-free-wear-hijab-if-will-protect-them-bullets-%E2%80%94can?fbclid=IwAR3shJ6-fG8rvs9eZsr-5bijdNykxvPDh1GU0i0Z0zQRI3qWzmoXpf4jOkY).
MURIC’s allegation came through a statement issued on Monday, 12th April, 2021 by its director, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
“CAN has come again. It never wishes its neighbour well. It is never Christ-like. Statements from CAN are, more often than not, ungodly and diabolical. Imagine CAN supporting the use of hijab by female Muslim soldiers ‘if it would deflect bullets’. That shows bad intention. Why the reference to bullets except for death wish for female Muslim soldiers? The only Muslim CAN loves is the dead Muslim. The only Muslim CAN will accommodate is the ‘liberal’, ignorant, half-baked and lilly-livered Muslim who has no mind of his own.
“CAN is beating about the bush. The question is, does CAN support the use of hijab by female Muslim soldiers or not? Nobody is talking about bullets here. Every soldier knows the implications of joining the army. Bullets are working tools for soldiers. They are very familiar with it. So who is CAN trying to scare?
“This is a poor outing for CAN. We expect a robust and intellectual interface in which CAN will expatiate reasons for objecting to the use of hijab by female military soldiers. But what do we get instead? CAN is asking if hijab will deflect bullets for those who wear it? That is pedestrian, infantile and jejune. This shows CAN could not come up with any good excuse against the use of hijab by female Muslim soldiers who wish to do so once it is approved.
“The old song of ‘no Muslim can wear hijab in our school’ does not apply here. The Nigerian Army belongs to all Nigerians, Christians and Muslims. It is the people’s army. Let it reflect the variety of the people’s culture. Army uniform should not be synonymous with Christian uniform. Nigeria will not run a Christian army or a Muslim army.
“We must ask CAN in turn : does the army uniform itself deflect bullets? If it doesn’t, why do soldiers still wear it? If our soldiers still wear their uniform despite the fact that the latter has no capacity to protect them from bullets, there is no reason under the sun to stop female Muslim soldiers from using hijab simply because the latter cannot protect them from bullets. We assure CAN that female Muslim soldiers who so desire will embrace the hijab without fear of flying bullets even if CAN is the one pulling the trigger.
“CAN’s reference to only Afghanistan as a country where hijab is used by female soldiers is mischievous. CAN’s intention is to mislead Nigerians into believing that Afghanistan is the only country in the world where female Muslim soldiers use hijab. But this is far from being true. CAN is being economical with the truth. The examples below will expose CAN’s deception.
“Female Muslim soldiers and police are now found in Britain, Ireland, Scotland, US, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Trinidad and Tobago, New Zealand, Australia, etc. In November 2018, a High Court judge in Trinidad ruled that Muslim women police officers are to be allowed to wear their hijabs while on duty. So what is Nigeria waiting for if countries that are more than 80% Christians allow Muslim women soldiers and police to use hijab? Even the population of Muslims in South Africa is just 1.9% and hijab has already been approved there also.
“The United States Army approved hijab in 2017 following a memorandum issued by the Secretary of the US Army in Washington on 3rd January 2017 under the subject-matter Army Directive 2017-03 (Policy for Brigade-Level Approval of Certain Requests for Religious Accomodation).
“It is not in MURIC’s character to make lousy, unverifiable claims. The links below confirm our claims:
“Nigeria cannot afford to be the only country denying Muslim women their Allah-given fundamental human rights. Hijab is the right of every female Muslim whether she is a soldier or a police woman. For us, that is non-negotiable. We stand to be corrected, but the army and police can dig into their records to confirm that majority of female soldiers and police women are Christians. That gives undue advantage to the followers of one religion and this hijab advocacy is designed to create a level playing field for both Christians and Muslims. It is just too bad if CAN has a problem with that.
“Military, para-military and police jobs are avenues for reducing unemployment and it is the right of female Muslims to get those jobs. This is exactly where CAN is going but it will never say so. The intention of CAN is to reserve all jobs in the country for its members.
“As we speak, thousands of young, agile, willing, patriotic and qualified female Muslims are deprived of employment opportunities, particularly in the army and the police. They are reluctant to enroll because they know they will have to abandon their hijab. No pious Muslim woman is ready to do that. This situation impoverishes Muslims generally and impacts negatively on Muslim children in particular. As a result, a most vulnerable portion of the Nigerian population is sentenced to a life of abject penury.
“By the way, Nigeria stands to benefit immensely if hijab is approved for female Muslim soldiers and police women. It has economic, political and security implications. Economically, hundreds of female Muslim job seekers will be taken off the streets if they join the army and the police once they are sure that they can use the hijab with their uniforms.
“As for the political implication, a liberal policy which allows female Muslim officers to wear hijab will inject a huge dose of confidence in the Muslim population and give them greater sense of belonging.
Concerning security, the current security challenges facing the country has shown that this is the time Nigeria needs female Muslim women using hijab in the army and the police. The employment of women in hijab will enhance intelligence gathering, strengthen investigative power and widen the horizon of information supply
“Criminologists agree that women in communities are sine qua non to the provision of information to the police at grassroot level. This is why women are known to have contributed immensely to community policing in places like Britain and Ireland because of their naturally keen interest in their communities.
“By simple inference, Muslim women in Muslim communities in Nigeria will find it more convenient to relate and confide in Muslim police women who use hijab. The phenomenon of female suicide bombers can be more easily and effectively curtailed by female Muslim soldiers in hijab.
“Finally, we refer Nigerians, particularly our lawmakers, to MURIC’s full page advertorials in the Daily Trust of Tuesday, September 24th, 2019, page 19 and The Nation newspaper of Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019, page 35.”