Hafsat Abiola-Costello, a civil rights activist and daughter of Nigerian politician and philanthropist Moshood Kashimawo Olawale (MKO) Abiola, has commended Amasa Firdaus over the on-going hijab controversy.
Firdaus, a female Muslim law graduate, was recently denied being called to the bar by the Nigeria Law School for wearing a hijab.
At the call to bar ceremony which took place at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, Firdaus, a graduate of the University of Ilorin, passed all the necessary examinations and fulfilled all requirements, but was not called to the bar because she wore a Hijab under her wig. The incident has, however, generated intense debate on the internet.
Describing Firdaus as a lioness who chose to challenge the status quo, Hafsat Abiola encouraged Nigerians to push past complacency and complicity and demand change against a practice or rule that we do not support. Read what she wrote on her Facebook page:
“A law student passed all the requirements to be called to the bar but was not allowed to attend the ceremony because she refused to take off her hijab, which violates the rules of the Law School.
“She knew of the rule but because she felt that it was unjust, she refused to comply. By so doing, she has chosen to challenge the status quo.
“If she succeeds, the Law School will change the rule. If she fails, she would either have to comply in order to be called to the Bar in Nigeria or give up her dream of being a lawyer here.
“I wish we would all be like Firdaus in pursuit of the world we want to live in. To stand up or take a knee and speak up against a practice or rule that we do not support. To be willing to challenge the prevailing practice, no matter the cost. After all, the problems we remain silent about are the ones we are condemned to live with.
“As we think of what gifts to give each other during this Christmas season, let us gather stories of the courageous, the stories of the scared-but-acted-anyway to share at our tables. Let them inspire us to enter 2018 prepared to raise our voices about the issues we are concerned about; to push past complacency and complicity and demand change.
“Well done, Firdaus. A lioness can only ever be the mother of cubs.”
It will be recalled that in a recent interview, Firdaus noted that the support she has been getting from the Muslim community over the hijab controversy has been quite impressive.
When asked the reasons behind her controversial action, Firdaus said she intentionally wore the hijab in a bid to challenge the status quo and give Muslim sisters the rights to express their constitutional rights as enshrined in the constitution.
Firdaus argued that there was no law preventing female Muslim lawyers from wearing hijabs.
On why she did not wait to be called to bar before embarking on the campaign, she said those who removed their hijabs in the past did nothing to change the situation. Her words:
“They just call it convention that the British gave to us and we have to stick to it. I used them. They complained (during) my first (law) dinner. That is how they do on the campus. You don’t wear hijab for dinner but I did. I chose Abuja because I knew they were a little lenient.
“People have been removing their hijab over the years. What have those people who have removed it done?”
On the consequences of her decision, she said, “I knew that was what was going to happen.” She, however, said she remained resolute in her convictions to speak for the recognition of rights of female Muslim law graduates.
Firdaus explained further that the Law School has not said anything on the case. “My demand is that Hijab should be approved,” she said.