A female Nigerian law student banned from last year’s call to bar ceremony for wearing a headscarf was finally called to the bar on Tuesday, sparking praise and elation among the nation’s Muslims.
In 2017 Firdaus Amasa was denied access to the call to bar ceremony in the capital Abuja for insisting on wearing her headscarf in the hall, triggering a backlash from the country’s Muslim community, which accused the law school of religious discrimination. The controversy led to lawsuits, especially after Nigeria’s parliament called a public hearing on the issue.
Amasa attended the Tuesday event wearing her headscarf, commending the authorities for standing down their opposition to her choice as well as the Muslim and human rights communities for “standing by her during the struggle.”
Nigeria’s Body of Benchers (BOD), an ultra-conservative body of serving and retired senior judges and lawyers with the final say on the codes applicable for the legal profession, last month resolved to induct Amasa into the legal practice despite ongoing court cases on the matter. The BOD is not a party to any of the court cases.
Her induction led to jubilation within the Muslim community. On Wednesday, the JusticeForFridaus coalition is set to hold a news briefing on the matter featuring the young jurist herself.
Headscarves have become a contentious issue in Nigeria, as some government institutions attempted to restrict their use amid protests and litigation by the Muslim community.
In 2016 an appeals court held that headscarves arefundamental human rights of every female Muslim and may be worn anywhere of her choice, striking down a government circular that had restricted its use in public schools.
The government has appealed the ruling at the Supreme Court.