The hijab crisis rocking the University of Ibadan International School is getting heated up as traditional religion and some Muslim pupils’ parents had a rally to protest at the office of the varsity’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Prof. Adeyinka Aderinto.
The protesters were railing against the Muslim Parents Forum that sparked off the crisis weeks ago in the private primary school.
The forum has been handing out hijabs to their female pupils against the school’s dress code.
That followed the forum’s letter to the school management and governing board, stating that their female pupils must be allowed to wear hijab on their school uniforms.
The letter was entitled: ‘Notification of Muslim Parents’ Resolution on Hijab for our Muslim Girls in ISI’.
The school was promptly shut then.
It was reopened later, only to be shut down again during the second protest rally.
Series of meetings with the Parent-Teacher Association, which the Muslim parents attended but left midway, has not in anyway resolved the problem.
On Wednesday, many placard-carrying parents, including an Ifa priest and researcher, who is also the father of two pupils in the school, Awosanmi Abe, condemned the approach of the Muslim parents to the issue of hijab.
The protesting parents said wearing of hijab in the 55-year-old school was capable of dividing the students along religious lines.
Some of the inscriptions on the placards read: ‘No to religious discrimination in ISI’, ‘Say yes to peaceful co-existence in ISI’, ‘Stop!! Don’t divide our children’, ‘No to religious crisis’, and ‘Let our uniform be uniform’.
In their letter entitled, ‘Clamour for the introduction of religious emblem for our children in the International School, University of Ibadan’, the parents urged the school’s board to ensure that the rules and regulations guiding the institution are obeyed.
They insisted that the pupils were friends and colleagues as well as their parents, stressing that any attempt by some Muslim parents to divide them should not be allowed to succeed.
“We want to use this medium to inform the management that the school is not only populated by the two dominant religions, but also has traditional believers. These groups have vowed to enforce their rights in line with their Muslim counterparts’ claim to the right to use of their religious emblem in hijab wearing,” the letter stated in part.
“A scenario in which armlets and Ifa traditional beads are freely used as religious symbols in the school will not be funny. What will then become of the uniformity concept of the uniform when the school environment can be taken as a marketplace of sorts, where a rainbow of apparels is the order of the day? May the day never come when the ISI becomes the example of what a school environment should not be.”
They noted that the ISI Muslim Parents Forum’s position was an attempt to disrupt the academic milieu as well as the atmosphere of love and unity already entrenched among the pupils.