The Muslims Rights Concern, MURIC, has warned the Chairman of the Ogun State Teaching Service Commission, TSC, Joshua Olalekan-Ifede, against religious profiling and bias over the use of hijab by female teachers.
The Director of MURIC, Ishaq Akintola, in a statement on Friday, accused Mr Olalekan-Ifede of ordering female Muslim teachers who attended a promotion interview to reduce their hijab length to shoulder level before getting interviewed.
Mr Akintola condemned the incident, describing it as “provocative discrimination and abuse of office”.
The statement reads: “This order is draconian, illegal, unlawful and unacceptable. It amounts to religious profiling, provocative discrimination, power-drunkenness and abuse of office.
“So it has come to this. We are still battling with how to rescue Muslim children from the shackle of school tyrants, now Christian officials are gripping female Muslim teachers by the jugular. This is going too far.
“Who said there is religious tolerance in Yorubaland? The female Muslim teachers addressed by Evangelist Joshua are all of Yoruba stock just like the evangelist himself, but that did not stop him from stereotyping them.
“An official message which went viral on social media immediately after the incident read, ‘Dear colleagues’ good afternoon. I have the directive of the TESCOM Chairman, Evg. Lekan Ifede to inform you to get back to our teachers in all the interview centers to dress corporately.
“Tell our Muslim Sisters to put on hijab that doesn’t go beyond their shoulder. Whosoever that is not corporately dressed will not be attended to as from tomorrow. Thanks and pleasant night. CCZS’
“The question, however, is whether Evangelist Joshua has the mandate of the government of Ogun State for this humongous embarrassment.
“We therefore call on the state government to clarify its position in this diplomatic conundrum. Ogun State Muslims will, thereafter, know the next line of action.
“Nobody should think that Nigerian Muslims will abandon their women in the hands of oppressors of women and certificated Muslim-haters. We assert that all options are on the table except violence.
The director stated that after the incident MURIC is concerned that Muslim candidates would not be treated fairly under the supervision of Mr Olalekan-Ifede.
“This man has exhibited extreme hatred for Muslims. We have no confidence in any promotion exercise conducted under his supervision. Evangelist Joshua has failed to separate the calling of the church from his official duty as chairman of the Commission in whose hands is the welfare of both Muslims and Christian teachers.
“This is common among church clerics who double as government officials. Many of them are in immigration, identity cards and driving license offices, etc. They have instructions from hate preachers to make life unbearable for Muslims. We demand that the persecutions of the past must stop. These are days of InfoTech when the world has become a global village and nothing can be done in secret anymore.
“Of course it is an open secret that CAN goes round insisting on certain posts for its members. The domination of the education sector is already a fait accompli by CAN and it is aimed at perpetuating the oppression of Muslim students and teachers.
“The Evangelist Joshua affair which occurred yesterday was made possible by this same arrangement and it has proved once again that religious tolerance in Yorubaland is a myth, a phantom, a mirage. It is sheer propaganda.
“Our women are publicly insulted and stigmatized on account of their faith. Our daughters are stereotyped in school and denied access to the classroom unless they changed their identity by using Christian uniforms as designed by the Christian colonial master. Our men are forced to remove their turbans and caps by immigrations officials and national identity card workers.
“Examination bodies send out Muslim candidates and force them to shave their beards if they don’t want to miss the entire examination. Yorubaland has declared Muslims persona non grata.
“But who will speak for Yoruba Muslims? Who will defend us? No single state assembly in the South West has addressed the issue of persecution of Muslims.
According to MURIC notable Muslims in positions of power need to represent and protect their oppressed Muslim brothers and sisters.
“MURIC has a duty to remind Muslim lawmakers in Yorubaland that there is an eschatological angle to politics. Allah will ask all of you Yawm al-Qiyamah (the Day of Resurrection) why you abandoned your Muslim brothers and sisters who are being persecuted when you have the chance to say or do something. You are accountable to Allah and He will hold you responsible.
“MURIC did not say so. Allah said it in Qur’an 4:75, thus: ‘Why should you not rise in the cause of Allah to defend men, women and children who are oppressed due to their weakness? The weak ones cry out, “Our Lord! Rescue us from this city (Nigeria?) whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from Thee one who will protect us, and send to us a helper!”
“Leaders of the groups agitating for Yoruba breakaway must admit that there is a strain in Christian/Muslim relationship in the South West and proffer solutions instead of blackmailing and accusing it of fermenting trouble in the region. It is the height of hypocrisy and it will not help the cause of the Yoruba nation.
“We therefore ask the Yoruba agitators, what do you have in stock for Muslim children and women? What is your plan for hijab? Is it as dictated by CAN? Is there any provision for civil sharia which Yoruba Muslims have been demanding for ages?
“The response of the agitators to these questions will go a long way in determining their readiness to tolerate Muslims or the plot to continue oppressing us.”