Nigeria: Principal reassigned over headscarf row

By Rafiu Ajakaye

LAGOS, Nigeria (AA) – A Nigerian school principal has been reassigned after she reportedly sent five Muslim students home for wearing Islamic headscarves, drawing criticism from the Muslim community.

J. O. Shadare stirred controversy last Wednesday after reports emerged of her asking Muslim students at Isolo senior secondary school in Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous state, to remove their headscarves and go home on the grounds that their attire was not allowed in public schools.

Her action provoked an uproar within the Lagos Muslim community, who alleged unabated Islamophobia such as restrictions on wearing headscarves across public institutions in the state despite a court of appeals ruling upholding Muslim women’s right to wear them.

Idiat Adebule, Lagos’ deputy governor and education commissioner, said in a statement on Saturday that Shadare has now been reassigned to “douse tension and allow for a thorough investigation of the matter".

Adebule said a meeting of concerned parties would be held on Monday to address the issue amid the probe.

“[We] urge the public to be patient with government in dealing with the matter as … it is important for the general public to know that there is Public Service Rule which must be adhered to strictly … in the event that they are found culpable of any charges,” said the statement.

Officials got letters from the Hijab Rights Advocacy Initiative, Muslim Students Society of Nigeria, and Muslim Forum of Isolo on the issue, he added.

Muslims have repeatedly protested the alleged victimization of their women who wear headscarves. The protest has been more intense in Lagos, where a government circular banning headscarves in schools was struck down by a court. The government has appealed the ruling at the supreme court.

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