Amasa Firdaus, a law graduate who wasn’t called to the Nigerian bar for refusing to remove her hijab, has ignited a debate on social media.
Firdaus was reportedly denied entry into the hall at a ceremony which took place at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, on December 12.
She had refused to remove her hijab, insisting on wearing the wig over the veil, which is said to violate the dress code set by the law school.
The hijab is a covering prescribed by Islam to be worn by Muslim women.
Firdaus had described the action of the law school as “a violation of her rights”.
Meanwhile, AB Mahmoud, president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), says the controversy surrounding Amasa’s use of hijab is needles.
Mahmoud posted a picture of his daughter in hijab, on the day she was called to the New York bar.
He said the issue will be addressed.
“My Daughter Zubaida Mahmoud at the ceremony admitting her to the New York Bar earlier this year…the controversy here on Hijab is needless,” the tweet read.
“UK based Nigerian lawyer recognized for promoting diversity in the legal profession. The NBA will embrace diversity and tolerance in the Nigerian legal profession. The Hijab issue will be addressed.”
My Daughter Zubaida Mahmoud at the ceremony admitting her to the New York Bar earlier this year...the controversy here on Hijab is needless. pic.twitter.com/adgWlTGSGC— A B Mahmoud (@abmtwitt) December 15, 2017
NIGERIANS REACTUK based Nigerian lawyer recognized for promoting diversity in the legal profession. The NBA will embrace diversity and tolerance in the Nigerian legal profession. The Hijab issue will be addressed. pic.twitter.com/shNQG5m6Cd— A B Mahmoud (@abmtwitt) December 15, 2017
While Mahmoud, at the helm of the law, has made known his stance, many Nigerians have taken to various social media platforms to air their view on the controversial issue, with some for and others against Firdaus’s stand.
While some backed their arguments with the law, others contributed to the argument based on emotions and sentiments.
Some commenters shared pictures of female lawyers in hijab and even those in other professions, arguing that the veil does not hinder their ability to do their jobs.
Ogundiran Teslin, a law student who was called to bar on Wednesday in Abuja, said hijabs are frowned upon and that the subject is aware of it.
Writing on his Facebook page, Teslin said he “see[s] no reason why the lady couldn’t remove her Hijab for 3 hours or less. She knew the rules of the school, she just decided to challenge it in the wrong manner”.
This Hijab issue is so funny, you spent 5 years in the University studying "THE LAW" went to "LAW SCHOOL" for a year to know "THE LAW" .— Henny (@_MsHenny_) December 14, 2017
Then on the D day you decided to break "THE LAW"?
You played yourself.
In everything, get wisdom.
Even athletes wear hijab now, and these are people who have a reason not to. How does hijab, especially of small size, affect a lawyer's professional engagements? Why can't we think beyond sentiments, beyond Britain, beyond colonialism, beyond imperialism, beyond our self-hate? pic.twitter.com/5WtjwI7Ebp— Gimba Kakanda (@gimbakakanda) December 15, 2017
I have no opinion on the hijab issue.— Onye Nkuzi (@cchukudebelu) December 15, 2017
My only contribution is that Nigerian lawyers should get rid of those silly 18th Century vintage pantomime wigs.
I mean, the temperature in Lagos is like 30 degrees Celsius and we are bothered about some silly colonial relic.
On this Hijab 🧕 issue, I’m not into law & I don’t know if it is constitutional or not; but— Olayinka Ahmed (@GalacticoHD) December 15, 2017
If she is allowed, will Celestians be allowed to be without shoes?
Will traditionalists be allowed to paint their faces?
Will “nudists” be allowed to come naked?
Yea, I am a Muslim.
I don't get, why's almost everybody on my TL talking about this hijab girl issue? She didn't take off her hijab, she wasn't called, who lose? 🤷♂— David A. Damilola 🇳🇬 (@IamDamilosky) December 15, 2017
How can you even study LAW for 6 YEARS & still not know the rules? Give what belongs to Caesar to Caesar. She will be alright. 😌
Loool, People think it's only Deeper life christains that have issues with the NYSC khaki trousers. Muslims have issues with it as well, but we've found a way around it by making the trousers baggy,and trying to have our hijab cover the bosom to extent.— Pretty Leemah (@harleyma_) December 15, 2017
In an interview with Premiumtimes, Firadau said there is no law prohibiting Female Muslim lawyers from wearing Hijab to the Call to Bar ceremony. According to Firadau, she is determined to pave the way for Female Muslims to be allowed to wear Hijab to the ceremony.
“There is nothing like that (laws preventing the use of Hijab). When you ask them too, they tell you it is convention; that that is how it is done and it has to remain like that.”
Amasa says wants to change the narrative and give Muslim sisters the right to express their constitutional rights as enshrined in the constitution.
“I knew that was what was going to happen. My demand is that Hijab should be approved,” she said.
Firadau's younger sister, Tawakaa, who was also called to bar on the said day, called on Nigerians to support her sister's cause which she says is not illegal.
“All we are clamoring for is to allow hijab in legal profession because it is our right,” she said
After all said and done, it begs the question; will Firdau’s ‘rebellion’ usher in a new era for Nigerian female Muslim lawyers or will more Firdaus spring up in subsequent years? The Nigerian Law School, is yet to react to the controversy.