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Hijab controversy ruins reopening of Kwara mission schools, as groups clash



There was violence on Wednesday, as the 10 grant-aided missionary schools earlier closed down by the Kwara State Government, over the disagreement of use of hijab (Islamic female veil), tried to reopen as planned.

Ripples Nigeria reported when the schools were closed on February 19, over the misunderstanding in the usage of hijab in Christian schools.

Kwara State government had set up different committees, the latest being the one headed by the Deputy Governor, Kayode Alabi, to resolve the crisis and later asked the schools to resume on March 8, approving that Muslim female students could use hijab.

The government, however, cancelled its plan to reopen the schools over concerns of safety as some Christians kicked against the decision.

Early Tuesday, March 16, the governor of the state, Abdulrahman AbdulRazaq ordered that the ten schools that were shutdown should be reopened on Wednesday 17.

According to reports, a crisis erupted at Baptist Senior Secondary School Ilorin on Wednesday, when the Christians began to sing gospel songs and the Muslims also joined, chanting Arabic songs.

Despite the presence of the police, the parties started to throw stones at each other as the songs deepened, while the police tried to disperse the crowd with teargas and firing gunshots into the air.

It took the intervention of soldiers to disperse the crowd just as the school gate and signposts were damaged.

The Christians carried placards reading: “Give us back our schools”, “Enough of marginalisation”, while the Muslims also had Arabic inscriptions on their placards reading: “Lahila Ilalahu Muhammadu Rosululah” (There is no deity worthy of worship except Allah).

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According to a report by TNG, President, Kwara Baptist Conference, Pastor Victor Dada, who witnessed the incident said, ”What transpired this morning is simply because the government led by Gov. Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq is not respecting the rule of law and if the state government does not respect the rule of law, there will be chaos.

”A case that is in Supreme Court and judgment has not been given, the governor is making a pronouncement. As long as the state government doesn’t respect the rule of law, we will defend our property and our faith.

”We will not allow Hijab in our school because this is a Christian mission school, let Kwara State government respect the rule of law,” Dada said.

At C & S College, Sabo Oke, Christians were seen carrying placards with various inscriptions like “Kwara State is for all, not an Islamic state”, “We say no to Hijab” and “Our school is our heritage”.

Similarly, at St. Anthony’s Secondary School, Offa road, teachers and students were also seen hanging around the school premises as the police, soldiers and Civil Defence personnel tried to calm the situation.

At the Bishop Smith Secondary School, Agba Dam, the school remained shut with few students and security personnel seen around the institution.

However, at ECWA School Oja Iya, academic activities resumed as students were already seated in their classrooms when a NAN correspondent visited.

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