The Hijab as Placard: A Commonsense Evaluation of an Instrumentalized Religious Right in South-western Nigeria
Anthony Okeregbe (University of Lagos)
Paper short abstract:
This paper seeks to critically examine the emergent protest for the institutionalization of the hijab as a dress code for Muslims girls in select public institutions of southwestern Nigeria.
Paper long abstract:
Recent trends in the ethno-politically and religiously polarized Nigeria indicate that the right to religious freedom has become an instrument for social, economic and political expediencies for state and non-state actors. A recently observable form of instrumentalization of religious rights is the clamour for the recognition of the hijab as a dress code for Muslim girls in public schools in southwestern Nigeria. This tends to be an emergent trend in that region because studies have shown that inter-religious cohabitation is a socio-cultural landmark of the Yoruba people (Soyinka, 1991; Odejobi, 2014; Nolte, Ancarno and Jones, 2018). This paper seeks to critically examine the growing protest for the institutionalization of the hijab as a dress code for Muslims girls in select public institutions of southwestern Nigeria. It embarks on content analysis of newspaper publications examining the controversies generated by the hijab protests in select secondary schools, and also critically analyzes the arguments adduced by proponents of the hijab dress code vis a vis those of the opponents in the light of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Furthermore, it argues that whilst both supporters and opposers find justification for their position in the Constitution, there is need for a common sense approach to address this politics of identity and avert any impending religious conflict that may arise, if the hijab controversy is not properly managed Keywords: Human rights, Instrumentalization, Hijab, Nigerian Constitution