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Pius Adesanmi: Protracted Diversity Negotiations Led To Changes In Western Uniform Codes

The Oasis Reporters

December 17, 2017

Law, school, Hijab wearing Ms Firdaus

I have a few random observations to make on this Law school – hijab-gate controversy.

(1) The Nigerian Body of Benchers has extant rules which the lady willingly submitted to but decided to flout at a critical moment. One’s opinion of their strict and weird colonial vestimentary rules is of no moment here. There is a place and time and manner of engaging them to move with the times. However, extant rules are extant rules.

(2) I see citizens plastering photos of Hijab-wearing women in police uniform and other professions all over the western world. It is increasingly common to see them here in Canada in the professions. What those splashing the photos will not tell you is that such concessions are usually made to female Muslim members of the professions after protracted negotiations by Muslim organisations and individuals – yes, activists too! – with the regulatory bodies of such professions.

Take a look at the link below and see how the Federal police in Canada, the RCMP, came to adopt the Hijab as part of the dress code of willing female members of the corps. You don’t just show up at work as a female RCMP officer in Hijab, protesting the colonial origins of your uniform or whining that your current uniform is not in line with your religion. You show up in Hijab because it has now been approved after protracted diversity negotiations to change the uniform codes of the RCMP to accommodate your religion:…/p…/rcmp-diversity-policy-hijab-1.3733829

(3) There are millions of Muslim lawyers and judges in Nigeria. Stop plastering decontextualised photos of Hijab-wearing women being called to the bar or in police uniforms in America and Canada without telling the story of the protracted diversity negotiations with the regulatory bodies of such professions which led to such outcomes in Canada and the US. Go and start your own diversity negotiations with the Nigerian Body of Benchers. Those of us who are tired of their nonsense colonialist hangovers, especially their funny wigs, may even benefit from your negotiations. They should spice things up, come into the 21st-century, stop wearing wigs, and stop speaking Latin all the time. Even the Catholic Church moved beyond Latin. A conversation between two Nigerian wig-wearing lawyers can sometimes sound like the disgruntled conversation of two Roman centurions who are being owed salaries by Julius Caesar.

(4) I support an expanded space of diversity in which our Muslim women would be able to wear the Hijab on the job in the legal profession after the amendment of the extant dress code. Go and negotiate with them. Stop blackmailing an association for her extant rules and stop encouraging the indiscipline of somebody who willingly flouted the extant rules after agreeing to them.

(5) Because this is about the female body and appearance, there is no surprise that patriarchy has had the lion share of the conversation. This has largely been a debate between Christian men supporting the body of benchers and Muslim men supporting the female Hijabi. I am another male Christian weighing in. To the male Christian experts on Hijab and Muslim practices, you have been involved in a vigorous debate with Muslims over what they consider a symbol or an aspect of their religion in the last 48 hours. You have been running your mouths freely and liberally. Some of you have even been questioning the rights of Muslims to consider the hijab a religious symbol, claiming it is just a cultural symbol etc. Tomorrow, when the debate shifts to the psychological and social consequences of tithing, you will up your violence in social media comments and invade the public sphere and attempt to shut down meaningful conversations with blackmail – touch not my anointed. We shall be waiting for your Christian asses here.

(6) To the Muslim men. I am happy about the ferocity with which you have marshaled your arguments in favour of the female Hijabi’s rights and freedom. This is a very good development: that you are canvassing so openly for her rights and freedom. If, tomorrow, she decides to exercise the same right and freedom you are defending so passionately today to look like another nice Muslim woman, Mrs. Aisha Ahmad, CBN Deputy Governor, I hope you will not change your tune about her individual right and freedom. If you do, we shall be waiting for your Muslim asses here.

This opinion expressed here is strictly that of the writer only and does not represent the opinions of The Oasis Reporters, as every other viewpoint published by us.


Written by Pius Adesanmi, a professor of English, and Director of the Institute of African Studies, Carleton University, Canada

Greg Abolo

Blogger at The Oasis Reporters.

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