Lagos, 14 April, 2021 / 6:50 pm (ACI Africa).
Church leaders in Nigeria have opposed a Bill before the National Assembly that, in a bid to prohibit religious discrimination, the religious leaders say, seems to target “Christian institutions” in the West African nation.
While the proposal law dubbed “Religious Discrimination (Prohibition, Prevention, Etc.) Bill 2021,” seeks to enforce provisions on religious freedom and tolerance as enshrined in the Constitution of Nigeria, Universal Declaration Human Rights, and other related international conventions, Church leaders in Nigeria see it as a ploy to legalize the wearing of the Muslim headscarf (hijab) in Christian schools.
Speaking during the Tuesday, April 13 consensus meeting with the sponsor of the Bill and House of Representatives member, Said Musa Abdullahi, the Church leaders under the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) observed that the proposed law was targeting Christian entities.
“The intent of the Bill is to target Christian institutions in Nigeria ... The central focus of your document is hijab. This bill is a bill for hijab,” Prof. Yusuf Turaki, a CAN official said, adding, “Every other place is allowed to wear hijab. Christians establish institutions in order to serve their God. I do not see how this Bill is going to protect Christian institutions.”
Section 4(1) (b) of the Bill reads, “A person shall not, directly or indirectly or by any combination of the two, be intimidated, harassed, victimized or discriminated against on the basis of religious belief or activity or on the ground of manifestation of religion or religious belief or any other ground of a characteristic that people who have or engage in the religious belief or activity generally have.”