Africa

Nigeria's Muslims applaud lifting of hijab ban in Lagos schools

Three teenagers in Nigeria (archive shot) Image copyright AFP
Image caption Muslim leaders say girls and women who wear the headscarf should not be "stigmatised"

A leading Muslim group in Nigeria has welcomed a court ruling lifting the ban on girls wearing the headscarf in government schools in Lagos state.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MRC) said the Lagos Court of Appeal's ruling was a victory for the rule of law.

The judges said the ban violated the religious rights of Muslim girls, overturning a lower court's ruling.

Girls had been barred from wearing the headscarf, or hijab, because it was not part of school uniforms.

The state government has not yet commented on whether it intends to challenge the ruling at the Supreme Court.

Nigeria's population is roughly divided between Muslims and Christians, with both groups being staunch believers.

The majority of Muslims live in the north and Christians primarily are in the south - though the southern state of Lagos has a more religious mix.

In June, the High Court in the southern state of Osun also lifted the ban on Muslims girls wearing the headscarf.

It caused religious tension in the state, with some Christian boys insisting on wearing church robes to school.

Image copyright Josiah Oluwole / Premium Times
Image caption Christian students wore religious clothes over their school uniforms in Osun state
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Many Muslim women believe their religion requires them to wear the headscarf

Two Muslim girls challenged the ban in Lagos state, taking their case to its Court of Appeal after the High Court ruled against them in 2013.

"The fact that the judgment was unanimous and only two of the five judges are Muslims leaves a firm stamp of authority on the legality of the use of hijab not only by female Muslim students but also by all Muslim women in the country," the MRC said.

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