Nigerian court says girls can wear hijab in school

Nigerian court says girls can wear hijab in school

Ruling in Osun state welcomed by Muslim students

LAGOS, Nigeria (AA) – A Nigerian court ruled on Friday that Muslim girls can wear a headscarf to school as long as its color is the same as the approved uniform.

"Hijab is a matter of [the] fundamental right of freedom of worship and the Muslim children have a right to it without fear of molestation," Justice Jide Falola said in a 51-page ruling.

The court was ruling on a suit filed by Osun state's Muslim community, challenging a government decision to disallow the use of hijabs – head-coverings worn by female Muslims — in public schools.

This ruling -- subject to appeal up to the Supreme Court -- applies only to government schools in the state including missionary institutions the government has acquired since 1975.

Southwestern Osun state was engulfed in a serious crisis in 2013 after Muslim students wearing the hijab were asked to leave a Baptist school, one of the colleges long acquired and funded by the government.

A similar situation is playing out in southwestern Lagos state, although a high court there ruled that the government was right not to permit the hijab. Local Muslims rejected that ruling and have filed an appeal.

The Muslim Students Society of Nigeria has hailed the Osun ruling, saying it "upholds the supremacy of the constitution".

The government of Osun has yet to comment on the ruling. It is not clear if an appeal will be filed.

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