SHAFAQNA -Â Nigeria’s highest Muslim body, Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI)Â has declared its opposition to mounting calls to ban the hijab following a spate of suicide bombings in which the perpetrators used the head covering to conceal explosives.
“We are certainly not going to support any ban on the hijab under whatever guise,” Khalid Aliyu Abubakar, secretary-general of the JNI.
According to Abubakar, the policy of singling out Muslim women wearing hijab â€“ within the context of government counterterrorism measures â€“ â€œwould amount to profilingâ€ on the basis of religion.
Amid a rising tide of suicide attacks by the Boko Haram militant group in Nigeriaâ€™s volatile northeast, security agencies have deployed more female agents to stop and search women wearing the Muslim headscarf.
Abubakar, however, said the JNI was also opposed to the frisking ofÂ “all Muslim women” by security agencies, “except, of course, where there is strong suspicion.”
â€œIn law,Â everyone is presumed innocent until the contrary is established,â€ he said.
According to Abubakar, such measures arenâ€™t only discriminatory, but also fail to resolve the root cause of the problem.
â€œThe hijab is being blamed as if it were the hijab itself that was carrying out these dastardly acts,â€ he said.
â€œSome women [smugglers] hide cocaine in their pants, but I havenâ€™t heard of the government banning pants,â€ he asserted, noting that â€“ in some cases â€“ male suicide bombers had used the hijab to conceal their deadly payloads.
Rather, he called on the countryâ€™s security agencies to combat the trend by adopting modern methods of crime detection.
â€œThe rest of the world now uses forensics and takes a scientific approach to crime detection,â€ he said. â€œNigeria should do the same.â€