EDITORIAL-When Religion Should Attract Tolerance

Nigeria has ab initio been painfully torn across the ethnic and religious divide. These differences have so much been pronounced that it has become a very sensitive topic for each of the numerous ethnic groups. Each of them have in one time or the other felt the horror that this divide could offer.

Still the different groups have more often than not found it particularly difficult to afford the one panacea that would have gone a long way in loosening a little bit the tight ropes it has woven about itself, this panacea is tolerance.

The past week has been suffused with the news of two female corps members currently undergoing orientation program of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Ebonyi State who have been dismissed for refusing to wear the statutory camp shorts and trousers; which according to them was against their religious belief.

Maze of varying opinions have been thrown by individuals, with some being in support of the girls’ courage in steadfastly clinging to their beliefs, while others are kicking against the action of the girls, as something that’s preposterous.

These discrepancies in the views of Christian as regards the actions of the girls points to a bigger issue of the set but that is not the issue at hand. It is pertinent at this point to recall that sometime in December 12, 2017, Nigerian Law School graduate; Amasa Firdous Abdusalam was denied her call to the bar for refusing to take off her hijab.

The Lagos-based Nigerian Law School said that she was breaking the dress code set by the university, but Abdusalam, who was already wearing her new gown, insisted on wearing the wig on top of her hijab.

The Muslim community raised alarm and called it religious discrimination. Abdusalam called the refusal of the Nigerian Law School to call her to the bar a violation of her right to freedom of religion as protected by section 38 of the 1999 constitution. But at the end of the day, Abdusalam didn’t leave her hijab at home.

The two situations above point to the time when the law stood in the way of religion, a face to face with Edom. The most apt argument that would try this situation is that what is good for the goose is equally good for the gander. Eventually everything would still boil down to Christian versus Muslim thing.

But the problem is not the two religions in question, the problem is the system that makes these laws. If they actually want to play the card of rigidity as regards its laws, then they should be faithful to it, regardless of whose ox is gored. But if they want to lower the scales, they should go ahead, so nobody feels cheated.

Religion is a very sensitive topic in a polarized country like ours, so it should be treated with utmost care and attention, so that no one feels neglected.

Laws therefore must be clearly defined, bearing in mind that Nigeria as a country is deeply religious, room therefore should be made for tolerance in situation like this, so as not to infringe on people’s rights.

Individuals also regardless of their religious affiliation should equally, be conscious of the fact that systems or institutions do not change their laws that have lived for years just because a particular religion says this or that. But then, isn’t it said that law is made for man and not man for law, and that change remains constant?

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