30th September, 2023
FUNAAB : REVIEW NIQAB CIRCULAR – MURIC
The Senate of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) yesterday issued a circular in which it approved the use of niqab (veil) for female Muslim students of the institution who wish to use it.
But an Islamic human rights organization, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has kicked against a conditionality contained in the circular which requires a veiled female Muslim student to remove the veil during examinations and tests after being checked before entering the examination hall.
MURIC describes the process as an avoidable duplication. The organization therefore appealed to the university to review that aspect of the circular.
The full statement follows:
“The Senate of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) yesterday issued a circular in which it partially approved the use of niqab (veil) for female Muslim students of the institution who wish to use it.
“While we appreciate the University Senate and Management for making this compromise, we wish to place it on record and to request the university to take a second look at the conditionalities particularly item No. 5 of FUNAAB circular Ref FUNAAB/REG/S&A/58/III dated yesterday, 29th September, 2023. The circular was signed by the University Registrar and Secretary to Senate, Bola Adekola.
“We are deeply disturbed by one of the conditionalities contained in the circular which requires a veiled female Muslim student to remove the veil during examinations and tests after being checked before entering. This is an avoidable duplication.
“To be specific, item No. 5 of the circular reads, ‘He/she must facially identify him/herself and with his/her identity card and must not use the veil during Continuous Assessment Test (CAT) and Examinations and can sit in the front row of the class.’
“It is our humble opinion that the university has demonstrated lack of proper knowledge of the situation as regards the life of Muslims. Muslim males do not use veils. Therefore, the use of two pronouns ‘He/she’ and ‘his/her’ in item No. 5 is absolutely unnecessary.
“Secondly, it is not necessary to ask a veiled female candidate who has already been checked, identified and cleared at the entrance of the examination hall or classroom to expose herself throughput the examination or test. This has already defeated the purpose of checking her at the entrance. It amounts to duplication, waste of time and energy, stereotyping as well as subjecting Muslim candidates to intimidation and coercion.
“It is certainly hazardous, cumbersome and uncomfortable for someone who is used to covering up to be asked to expose herself in the midst of male candidates and male invigilators. Or does FUNAAB have special examination halls for female candidates to be invigilated by women?
“Again, asking female Muslim candidates in niqab to sit in the front row will not help matters. Examination supervisors often come to the front of the hall or classroom. What do we expect the ladies in niqab to do if this happens? Should they drop their writing materials and cover their faces with their hands for as long as the invigilator chooses to remain in front of the classroom?
“An examination environment requires full concentration whereas unveiling and double checking will create unease, disquiet and distraction. It will definitely affect the candidates’ performance.
“The points raised above have proved the illogicality, unsuitability and unworkability of item No. 5. That clause has thrown a spanner in the works.
“MURIC has immense respect for the University Senate and the academia in general, therefore, while appreciating FUNAAB management once again, we appeal to the Vice Chancellor and Senate of the university to review this particular item with a view to limiting the checking of candidates wearing niqab to once at the entrance of the examination hall or classroom. Such a review will change the status of the approval from a Greek gift.”
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC).