Hundreds march over hijab rights in Accra
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Accra: Scores of Muslim women and girls from diverse backgrounds poured onto the streets of Accra on Saturday to advocate and sensitise Ghanaians on the rights of Muslim women to freely observe the hijab.

The decision of Muslim women to cover up in public has, over the years, become a source of controversy in some private and state institutions, including educational institutions.

The unfortunate development has led to growing incidences of harassment and discrimination against young Muslim women in the country.

It was in that regard that the event sanctioned by the Muslim Caucus of Parliament, the Office of the National Chief Imam, and the National Council of Zango Chiefs was organised.

The walk is expected to be simultaneously replicated across the regional capitals of Kumasi in the Ashanti region and Tamale in the Northern region.

Some Muslim men from the clergy, politics, and media fraternity also showed solidarity and participated in the 2.9-kilometre walk, which started from the Nima Market to the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange.

Notable among them were the Spokesperson of the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Armeyaw Shuaibu; the Member of Parliament (MP) for Tamale North, Alhassan Suhiyini; and Broadcast Journalist Abdul Hayi Moomen, among others.

An activity that started at around 8 a.m. was nearly marred by the interruption of security personnel from the Nima Police Station, who demanded that the event be called off due to the absence of police protection.

Organisers of the event, however, remained adamant based on a supposed letter that had been sent to the police hierarchy two weeks ahead of the planned walk.

Despite the incessant interruption from the police at various points, the walk continued amid floating placards with inscriptions like “Wear your wig, let me wear my hijab” and chants like “Hijab is our right! Hijab is our identity”, “No discrimination! We are citizens of Ghana”, “We are bold, we are beautiful, we are Intelligent” and “Hijab does not cover our brains”.

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In his address at the end of the walk, the spokesperson of Chief Imam Sheikh Shuaib warned of a growing national security threat emanating from paying less attention to issues of marginalisation and discrimination against religious minorities.

He explained that discrimination creates inferiority and makes people less confident, thereby making them vulnerable and susceptible to violence and anger, which he identified as common factors that breed terrorism.
“It is the reason why there is violence in certain parts of the world, and we all want to save this country from the intrusion of any violent person who will take advantage of this discrimination to bring terrorism into our country,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the Muslim Caucus of Parliament, Mr. Suhiyini said protecting the rights of Muslim women should be a fight for all peace-loving Ghanaians, as no religion would support the oppression of other faiths.

He, therefore, called for vigilance in protecting the rights of minorities by exposing intolerant individuals who use their position of power to infringe on the religious rights of others.

In an interview, Mr. Moomen talked about the dangers of turning a blind eye to issues of discrimination by saying, “People will point to some other factors and tell us that since we were not able to speak up when it was the rights of group A, then we should all shut up when it comes to respecting the rights of group B.”

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