Nigeria’s apex Muslim body on Tuesday threatened the country’s law school with nationwide protests for barring a Muslim woman from a call to the bar ceremony because she wore a hijab.
“We stand behind Abdulsalam Firdaus Amosa who acted within her constitutional rights and we insist that she must be called to the bar and adequately compensated for the humiliation she was subjected to,” Prof. Salisu Shehu, deputy head of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), said in a statement.
“The NSCIA demands that the federal government, through the Ministry of Justice, call the Council for Legal Education and the Nigerian Law School to order so that they will not stoke religious crisis in the country.
“Our Council patiently waits for what the Ministry will do as it puts other options on the table including litigation and nation-wide protests,” the statement said.
Abdulsalam Firdaus Amosa, a law graduate, was barred from entering the hall in the Nigerian capital, Abuja last Thursday after she refused to remove her head covering on religious grounds.
The law school said her dress contravened the dress code for the call to the bar ceremony.
Citing four court rulings, the Muslim apex body said the action of the law school amounted to “Islamophobia” and perpetuation of a policy of denying Muslims their rights in the guise of secularism.
“It is the height of Islamophobia displayed by the authorities of the Nigerian Law School, the Body of Benchers and the Council for Legal Education who now willfully break the law,” the statement added.
The Body of Benchers is responsible for the formal call to the bar of persons seeking to become legal practitioners in Nigeria.
The law school is meeting on the development later this week as citizens remain divided over the issue.
On Monday, several Muslim groups, including Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria, told a media briefing that the lady was unfairly treated and asked the law school to reconsider its decision or face public anger.