Muslim parents’ statement on ISI hijab judgement

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The International School, University of Ibadan girls barred from entering their school for wearing hijab on Thursday, 15th November, 2018

BEING THE SPEECH DELIVERED BY ALHAJI ABDUR-RAHMAN BALOGUN, THE CHAIRMAN OF INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, IBADAN (ISI) MUSLIM PARENTS FORUM ON 21ST MAY 2024 AFTER THE DELIVERY OF COURT JUDGEMENT ON THE PROTRACTED ISI HIJAB CASE IN IBADAN

In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful and The Most Supreme of all Judges. We thank Him for making us witness today on the surface of the earth. His words are ever true! He assured us in His last and incorruptible testament that “surely after hardship comes ease” and that “the truth has come and falsehood must vanish”. We seek His benedictions upon the noblest of mankind, Muhammad (SAW) who taught us to always be patient and steadfast.

Gentlemen of the press, I welcome you all to this press conference. Truly speaking, the wheel of justice grinds slowly. However, all is well that finally ends well.
Today’s judgement is memorable in all ramifications. It is an end to a phase in a long-drawn battle between freedom of religious expression and bigotry in the guise of secularity and shallow convention. It was a long journey that predated our struggle and we had no choice but to play our own part. Permit me to take you down the memory lane on how we got to where we are today.

Our phase of the journey commenced via a letter dated 29th October, 2018, intimating the International School, University of Ibadan (ISI), about our daughters’ intention to freely express their God-given and constitutionally sanctioned rights to use the hijab as part of their school uniform. We were duly informed by our predecessors that some efforts had been made in the past, through correspondences from concerned Muslim parents, on the need for the school to promote inclusion and diversity expected of a real international school by allowing willing female Muslim students wear the hijab as part of their school uniform, but the correspondences were never acknowledged by the school authority.

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Our method was therefore unique because we ensured that the receipts of our letters were acknowledged by all concerned. Consequent upon the inability of the ISI Board and Management to toe the line of honour in respect of our notice, we embarked on our second line of action by ensuring that our daughters appeared in school on 12th and 13th of November, 2018, wearing their hijabs. In response to the expression of these rights, the school authorities refused to conduct classes for the students. In fact, on 14th of November, the school management decided to harass the Hijab wearing girls, sent them away from classes and incarcerated eight of them in the school library under the watchful eyes of the school security personnel throughout the school period.

In order to avert any break down of law and order, we, the aggrieved parents jointly approached the Oyo State High Court, Ring road, Ibadan to enforce our daughters’ fundamental human rights to wear the Hijab along with their school uniforms. The case was later struck out on technical ground on 25th June 2019, for filing our case jointly. While, we were still working on the next line of action, the then school Principal, Mrs. Phebean Olowe announced the ban of the use of hijab within and outside the school premises on the school assembly ground on 1st July 2019. The Principal, through her agents, made good her threat by harassing female Muslim students wearing the hijab several metres away from the school gate on 3rd July, 2019.

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On 4th July, 2019, the situation became worse as our daughters were thoroughly disgraced outside the school premises under the watchful eyes of the Chief Security Officer of the University of Ibadan, hordes of security personnel from both the University and the school and some principal officers of ISI. The matter was promptly reported to the leadership of the University of Ibadan Muslim Community, who swung into action by reporting the situation to the University Administration. This probably informed the decision of the school authority to relax their draconian posture on 5th and 8th July to more sinister but less observable forms of harassment.

In search of a lasting solution to the problem, we thereafter, refiled the cases individually, sometime in July 2019 at the Oyo State High Court, Ibadan, while the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) later filed another case in our support. After series of adjournments and calls for out of court settlement by the erstwhile judge, Justice Ladiran Akintola, the case was reassigned to Justice Ishola and here we are today.

This victory is a testament to the fact that Allah is always with those who stand on the path of the truth. It is also a testimony that the court is still the hope of the common man. We accept this victory with all solemnity. It is six years late. The youngest among our daughters who partook in the struggle as JSS One students are now in their final year in the school. However, it is a sweet victory over falsehood and oppression. We hereby call on all Muslim girls currently in the school to freely enjoy their rights as affirmed by the court today by wearing their hijab to school tomorrow without any fear of molestation. We also call on the authority of ISI to respect the pronouncements of the court as a responsible organisation.

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We use this medium to appreciate the leadership of Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria (MUSWEN), Hijab Rights Advocacy International (HRAI), Muslim Community of Oyo State (MUSCOYS), National Council for Muslim Youth Organisations (NACOMYO), Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN), Federation of Muslim Women Association of Nigeria (FOMWAN), University of Ibadan Muslim Community and the generality of Muslims and well-meaning Nigerians for their support while this case lasted.

We equally thank our lawyers; Prof. Wahab Egbewole (SAN), Barr. Hasan Fajimite, Barr. Sulaiman Alabi and MURIC’s Lawyer, Barr. Anikulapo for their diligent in handling of the case. Only Allah can reward you for your efforts. Our gratitude also goes to our daughters and their respective parents whose firmness in the face of oppression and excommunication was instrumental to the victory being savoured today. May Allah continue to uplift each and everyone of you. The best of speech is to say Alhamdulillah robil Alameen!

ON HIJAB AT ISI-UI, WE STAND……..

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