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School Hijab Ban Angers Kenya Muslims

School Hijab Ban Angers Kenya Muslims

A ruling by a Kenyan court to ban hijab in a church-sponsored school has outraged Muslim parents and scholars, who deemed the ruling a setback for the freedom of worship in the Eastern African country.

"In our religion, all girls who have reached puberty have to cover all their body except the face. This is to encourage self discipline," the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya Tana River chairman Sheikh Abdullahi Gudo told the Star.

Gudo was commenting on an Isiolo court ruling on Tuesday, September 23, that barred Muslims students at ST Kiwanjani High School from wearing the Islamic headscarf, hijab, and long trousers.

The ban came in response to a request by the Methodist Church of Kenya (MCK), which claims to be the school's sponsor, to stop allowing Muslims students to wear hijab in the school.

"An order is issued restraining the Teachers Service Commission, Isiolo County director of education and district education officer from allowing Muslim students to wear hijabs at St Paul Kiwanjani Secondary, contrary to school rules and regulations," Justice Nzioki wa Makau was quoted by the Daily Nation last week.

Since last term, the school, which 80% of its students are Muslims, has been hit by several student protests over the hijab ban decision.

"The students, including KCSE candidates, did not even sit for their mid-year examination," a parent who requested anonymity told the Standard.

"There had been minimal lessons offered this year due to this problem."


Crisis Meeting

A crisis meeting gathered Muslim and Christian leaders under the umbrella of Interfaith Council of Isiolo at Al-Falah Islamic Centre on Thursday, September 25.

"The matter was a small problem blown out of proportion. Religion should not be mixed with education," Secretary Bishop Stephen Kalunyu of the National Christian Council of Kenya (NCCK) said during the interfaith meeting.

The Catholic Church in Kenya sponsors numerous private and public institutions, particularly in the countryside where many cannot easily access services.

Opposing the ruling, which was pushed by the church, Gudo, from the Council of Imams, said: "All schools must adhere to the same rules and regulations set under the ministry."

There are nearly ten million Muslims in Kenya, which has a population of 36 million.

Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one's affiliations.

Scholars believe that it is up to women to decide whether to take on the veil.


source : www.abna.ir
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