Boko Haram: Time To Ban Hijab


BEVERLY HILLS, January 07, (THEWILL) – Hint of a possible ban on Hijab, the Islamic veil worn by Muslim women, has generated mixed reactions. It broke at the recent maiden presidential media chat with President Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim, who said the ban may be inevitable if the use of hijab-wearing suicide bombers by the Boko Haram continues.

While some see the ban as long overdue, in the face of innocent lives that have been lost to suicide bombers, others see it as discriminatory and an assault on religious freedom. However, clarifications by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity Malam Garba Shehu, has added a new twist.

The spokesman debunked as unfounded, speculations that the President had banned the use of Hijab. Nevertheless, he did not deny the likelihood of a ban. The statement said government was cautious of the need to respect the rights of Muslims, protect their modesty and allow religious freedom as it affects everyone.

THEWILL appreciates the assurance that the President will not take any decision on the issue without due consultation with stakeholders. This is a noble step, given that this was the path adopted in other climes where such ban had been enforced. The ban on Hijab should not be misconstrued, but seen as critical to saving lives and property of people.

THEWILL can cite instances where the Hijab has been banned for security seasons. In Niger's Diffa region, Hijab was banned, following attacks by female suicide bombers. The government had said, “It is better to prevent danger,” than to harvest casualties. The use of full veil has also been banned in several regions of Cameroun where terrorism persists.

In the same vein, Chadian Prime Minister, who described the use of veil as a “camouflage” by terrorists, banned the sale and use of Hijab after series of bombings were perpetrated in the country by female suicide bombers.

Beyond these, countries have often taken counter measures to stop terrorism. For instance, France, in the wake of several attacks, banned the use of Hijab and other camouflage religious symbols, with overwhelming support from citizens.

Given the history of suicide bombings in Nigeria, the time to act is now. There have been dozens of deadly suicide attacks involving teenagers wearing Hijabs in northern Nigeria and these dastardly attacks do not seem to be abating.

THEWILL urges government to immediately commence consultations with stakeholders to implement the ban. Our position is anchored on the fact that strategies to solving the Boko Haram debacle should be all-encompassing. We believe that the frequency of suicide bomb attacks by Hijab-wearing terrorists are already high enough for government intervention.

In the face of the unending attacks, especially against the backdrop of difficulties in distinguishing between true Muslims and terrorists, it is necessary that the ban is enforced now at least in states that have witnessed sustained attacks.