As we wrote recently, the Islamic mujahedeen, desperate to change the equation of influence in the educational sector in Osun state are pushing the wearing of the hijab to school as a matter of religious duty for their young girls.
Of course, the school re-classification policy, could not change the history, character, or influence of schools founded by Christian missions decades ago, as die-hard Islamists would love to see happen. So, against all reason and logic, the idea was first touted that the government should provide school uniforms, the same uniform, for all schools in the state. The expected next step of providing different Shariah-compliant uniforms for muslim students was however not that easy to implement. Not only are students from different schools now no longer distinguishable by their uniforms, that next step would sharply identify students purely as either moslem or non-moslem. Even the don’t-bloody-care government of the day couldn’t just go that far.
And so, the goal of eroding the significant influence of Christian mission schools in Osun State remains unachievable. Desperate that the tenure of their champion is winding up, the Islamists are throwing caution to the winds and moving on anyway.
The dress-rehearsal was carried out at the Baptist High School, Ejigbo, where the principal and some teachers were beaten to a pulp, allegedly because of their opposition to the wearing of the hijab by female moslem students. As it became evident soon after, the alleged assault on a hijab-wearing moslem girl was a pure concoction by the Islamist. It never took place. Thereafter the real action commenced at yet another Baptist School, the Baptist High School at Iwo – the hotbed of Shariah militancy, probably in the entire South West.
We had drawn the attention of our readers to an earlier script by the Shariah advocates, before the show of shame at Ejigbo. In the major article intended to usher in the hijab into public schools in Osun state, Prof Ishaq Akintola from Lagos state University, had alleged that Christian teachers were physically assaulting moslem girls on the streets of Iwo, for dressing in the hijab. Like we pointed out, that would be extremely absurd, as virtually every moslem lady in the town dresses in the hijab/purdah, irrespective of weather condition or the time of the day or night. What would be new in a school girl donning the hijab on the streets of Iwo, and what would be the problem of any Christian teacher with that?
The script was thereafter changed to situate the imaginary assault in Ejigbo.
With the following severe beating dealt on Mr Layi Oguntola at Ejigbo, the mujahedeen were sure no Principal would dare complain when they instructed their girls to come to school at Iwo, donned in their hijabs. According to the Osun CAN, this was with the tacit support of the government.
What the Islamists did not bargain for however, was a scenario where the Christians completely ignore the hijab donning Islamist girls. Rather, the CAN simply gave leave to Christian girls to also feel free to turn up in their religious clothing, such as choir robes, worn over their standard uniforms. Soon after, students practicing traditional religions also decided they could come to school in their own various regalia, including some masquerades! The argument of the Islamists has now gone round full circle: yes, it is the right of pupils to come to school in garbs reflecting their religious persuasions. But such right certainly could not be limited to muslim girls!
The government’s initial attempt to intimidate the parents of Christian pupils who came in the unconventional garb has been rebuffed by the CAN who accepted responsibility for the dressing of the pupils and directed that the parents should not honour government’s invitation to discuss the matter.
So we wait to see what the government of Ogbeni Aregbesola would do next, as he is obviously so scared of calling his Islamic base to order. Are we witnessing the last days of the advocacy for hijab in Osun public schools?
For related furore concerning the change in name of the famous Ilesa Grammar School (founded 1934) to Ilesa High School in the spirit of the Aregbesola’s re-classification programme, see (Alumni kick against plan to change school name, Punch Feb 7, 2014, pg 43)