LLast Friday, I came across lawyer and self-described activist, Malcolm Omirhobo, on Twitter’s audio chatroom, Spaces, and briefly engaged him on his controversial appeal to wear the insignia of an undeclared religious group. at a hearing.
His unusual appearance sparked a debate around the Supreme Court’s agreement with the decision of the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal, which in 2016 overturned the 2014 judgment of the State High Court from Lagos. The latter had said that the decision of the Lagos State government to ban the wearing of hijab in public primary and secondary schools in the state was not discriminatory.
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Mr. Omirhobo’s activism was an attempt to demonstrate the apparent anarchy permitted by the Supreme Court, and he dramatized it in fashion for klieg light. It should be a toast to our democracy, but it didn’t take long before the joke became obvious, with another lawyer taking inspiration from him to wear a pastoral robe in court. The flaw in the message of these “human rights advocates” is this tragic assumption that the hijab, like regalia and dress, is a ceremonial or casual covering. The second error is the commitment to confuse secularism and atheism.
On this Twitter space hosted by the Cable Newspaper, Mr. Omirhobo argued that religion has set the country back and that while other nations are on the way to creating facilities to improve the quality of life of their people. , Nigeria is obsessed with an attachment to beliefs that should have been separated from the state. This theory has been the centerpiece of our ongoing search for the scapegoat of our development dilemma and our inability to unite against the real enemy – the political elite who exploit religious sensitivities and identities to secure their hold on power. Politics.
The projection that any religion is an obstacle to the nation’s ability to compete with the developing world or less endowed countries is sophistry at its worst, and Islam has been the main topic. The same Nigerians who are quick to portray Muslims as a setback are the very characters who are desperate to visit and relocate to Muslim countries like the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and even Morocco to fellowship with residents, neighbors, employers, colleagues wearing the hijab, security guards and other tourists.
It is undeniable that a segment of the Muslim population has deployed the religion wrongly and exploited our security loopholes to wreak havoc in the state, but singling out their existence to demonize about half of the country’s population, most of whom also criticize these offenders. , is a misframing of the religious tensions plaguing the country and it has propelled anti-Muslim bigotry into even the least expected places.
What plays out today as a call for a secular state in Nigeria, which fits the profile of an irreligious state, is a manifestation of our age-old politics of identities and mutual suspicion towards one another. The hijab, which has sparked these clownish pleas by those who do not understand that it is compulsory for practicing Muslim women, is not a problem because the Islamization agenda narrative is true, but because critics feel that Muslims are pampered by the state.
This is why I asked Mr. Omirhobo during the discussion why, as a longtime lawyer, he never wore his religious regalia to attend social functions, participate in sports, visit malls and restaurants and walk barefoot in the evening, as is done. for his court appearance, but he suddenly felt like the Malcolm X of traditional religions because Muslim women won their right to adhere to their faith. Interestingly, the activist chose to dress “normally” in subsequent court appearances, and it doesn’t make her see that it’s not the same for these Muslim women. The hijab is not an option for practicing Muslim women, it is not a fashionable adornment.
When he was reminded that the same Western countries he pointed to as models of secular ideology make room for hijabi athletes and policemen, and I cited the case of the New York Police Department which did not not only allows its female Muslim officers to wear the hijab on duty but had, as a sign of cultural sensitivity in 2020, even prohibited removing the hijab before taking the shots of Muslim women, Mr Omirhobo’s response revealed a contradiction. He said Western-style secularism, which is the obvious inspiration for what he denies as a protest against the hijab, is not a model for Nigeria, and that white people had been interested in destroying the race. black and had deployed HIV/AIDS and the COVID-19 pandemic for this intention and failed. The host had to remind him to weigh his words as a public figure, and he insisted he was entitled to his opinion. Nigeria, he said, must design its version of secular ideals to suit its particular environment.
The world of thought has made laws to accommodate diversity and recognize religious differences, but “human rights lawyers” in a country with about half of its population Muslim believe that depriving such a percentage of their right to worship and participate in non-optional activities and harmless clothing is a calculated pearl of wisdom. It can’t be about the hijab.
I choose to believe Mr. Omirhobo’s assertion that he is not Islamophobic in his response to Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), a group whose comments I also find controversial on extreme and problematic national issues, but the inspiration from his latest activism is unlikely to save him from such accusations. On Twitter Space, he also reiterated this position and that he is simply interested in a state without religious representation in public affairs.
The Chinese have the version of the state system that Mr. Omirhobo and his ilk tend to advocate – an irreligious place designed to quell any attempt by any group to identify with a religion. The result is that at least a million Uyghurs and other Muslims are held in extrajudicial concentration camps or sent to prison, with daring journalists and former detainees and residents of the Xinjiang region feeding the world stories of torture, sexual abuse and forced assaults. sterilization in the camps. It is the practice of a state system presented as the solution to Nigeria’s development dilemma.
We need to stop pretending that we don’t know what the problem is and why these Middle Eastern countries are thriving under a more rigid sharia legal system than the gimmick in place in northern Nigeria. We have prosecuted the wrong culprits, and that is the gross lack of responsible and accountable leadership, and we are not fierce in confronting the architects of this bastardization of our democracy as we practice our mutual dislike for one another.
Our democracy is not perfect, but it is enough for any serious people to build a viable country. This form of government offered an umbrella for hawks and eagles to roost on, but we obsess over the color of those birds and the size of their beaks instead of those that let the tree wither and the branches fall off.