US visa ban: Nigeria Muslim students urge Buhari to address religious discrimination against them ‘before things worsen’ Updated for 2021

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Updated: March 4, 2021

The Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria, Lagos State Area Unit, has called on both federal and state governments to address the religious discrimination experienced by its members in Nigeria, adding that with the discriminations, countries like the United States will continue to impose ‘needless’ US visa ban on Nigeria.

President Buhari arrives Abuja after his participation at the UK-Africa Investment Summit on 23rd Jan 2020
President Buhari arrives Abuja after his participation at the UK-Africa Investment Summit on 23rd Jan 2020

The Amirah (female head) of the MSSNLagos, Basheerah Majekodunmi, made the plea at the World Hijab Day 2020 in Lagos on Saturday.

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In commemoration of the World Hijab Day, the MSSNLagos and other Islamic organizations collaborated to hold a peaceful walk in Lagos and Ogun States.

Addressing journalists on the sidelines of the walk, Majekodunmi complained that Muslim students were facing difficulties using the hijab.

According to her, religious discrimination is a major setback for the country and must be addressed urgently.

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She said, “It is tiring that despite the Appeal Court ruling granting the use of hijab in schools, our members are harassed and punished for exercising their human rights.

“Shamefully, the government in some cases pretends not to see the abuses on our members. This is condemnable and dehumanising. It is the peak of irresponsibility from the government, organisations and the perpetrators. 

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“President Muhammadu Buhari must address this now before things get worst. The increasing disregard for human rights and religious freedom would continue to make countries like the US with worst cases of discrimination take advantage of Nigeria through a needless visa restriction.

“In an ideal society, that a pupil or female wears the hijab to school or for registration should not be something that would generate to crisis or harassment. This happening in Nigeria only shows how unaccommodating Nigerians are becoming.

“We also face this discriminatory act during image capturing for Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information, Driver’s License at Federal Road Safety Commission, International Passport at the Nigerian Immigration Service and National Identity Card at the National Identity Management Commission. JAMB and WAEC are also inclusive.

“In most cases, it is when the discrimination has begun to create chaos that the government and organisations come out to deny the lawless officials harassing females for wearing the hijab. But in the end, we are not aware that any punishment is meted to such an individual. The failure of government and the organisations to punish and sanction the individuals shows that they are culpable.

“Our understanding, as a peace-loving organisation, is that the government has shown enough irresponsibility in the protection of human rights, especially the right to use hijab in Lagos State.”

She insisted that the MSSNLagos would continue to pursue hijab rights in Lagos, saying, “With the case on the use of Hijab is still pending in the Supreme Court of Nigeria, I must emphasise here that we would not relent in our struggle. 

“In fact, we are committed to it until our constitutional right is granted, until we are safe and not discriminated against.”

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