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Extra: “Hajia, Pull Out Your Ears” By Rasheed Abubakar | The Precision

Rasheed Abubakar at one of INEC’s CVR centres

“Hajia, you need to pull out your ears”, the INEC official told my sister, a Hijabi. This occurred at one of the INEC centers at Ijeshatedo, Surulere, Lagos, where I just did my continuous voter registration (CVR) exercise.

My sister said “No, no, no”, shaking her head in disagreement, but the INEC official insisted, saying that it is their RULE not to capture the Hijabis except they pull out their ears from beneath their Hijabs.
I interrupted politely, requesting for a copy of the so-called rule from the INEC official, who had already kept many people waiting at the CVR centre for over 1 hour, 45 minutes before her arrival (although she apologised and we accepted her apology).
She responded that the copy of the so-called rule mandating the Hijabis to pull out their ears was in their office, asking me call to their boss or go to their office for confirmation.

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I told her point blank that there is no such written rule or law. If there was anything of such, she should have come with it to the centre, alongside other INEC materials.
She said: “I am not with it, but we don’t do photo capturing with the ears covered. There are instances where men do disguise under the Hijab as ladies.”
I told her: “There are such instances, fine, but my sister (the Hijabi in this case) is not a man, but a lady and a mother (of two). So, register her.”
The incident sparked reactions at the centre, as some people supported the INEC official, telling my sister to pull out her ears. Someone said: “Hajia, just pull out the ear small.”

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Others who found it ridiculous to ask a Muslim lady to pull out her ears kicked against the move, saying: “She can’t remove it. It is against her religion.”
After the short drama and the Hijabi’s insistence on not pulling out her ears, the INEC official finally captured my sister’s photo with her Hijab on. She however stated that: “INEC may reject it o.”
My sister and I chorused: “Capture it like that, let INEC reject it.” 

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I immediately tweeted INEC’s verified Twitter handle, seeking for clarification. I also tagged the popular Nigerian Muslim lawyer and TV presenter, Nyma Akashat-Zibiri and Hajia Mutiat Orolu, the Director of Hijab Rights Advocacy Initiative. See the tweet below:
@inecnigeria, your official here in Ijeshatedo, Surulere, Lagos is telling Muslim ladies wearing Hijab to pull out their ears for photo capturing. Is there any law to that effect? Kindly clarify, please. @AkashatZibiriNy @mutiat_orolu
However, there was no response from the INEC Twitter handler as at the time of writing this article. It may interest you that the INEC Twitter account has been active and responsive to enquiries relating to the continuous voter registration (CVR) exercise.
There is an urgent need for Muslim organisations to embark on massive enlightenment programs towards educating Muslims and non-Muslims on the symbolism of the Hijab.
INEC has no right to order Muslim ladies to pull out one or two ears before their photos can be captured. Where such lawlessness and harassment exist, Muslim women must resist such politely, just as we did.

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Also, it is important for Muslims, males and females, who have attained the required voting age of 18 to participate actively in the on-going continuous voter registration (CVR) exercise and get their Permanent Voters’ Cards (PVC), which is their power/right to vote in the forthcoming general elections.
Apart from voting, the PVC is also a verified means of identification. It can be used for bank transactions and SIM retrievals, among other purposes.
In order to ensure that no citizen is disenfranchised, INEC has stated that, instead of week days only, its officials will now also work on Saturdays and Sundays (9am to 5pm instead of 9am to 3pm as obtains presently), including public holidays (if any), starting from August 1.
The CVR exercise will be suspended on August 17, until after the 2019 general elections.

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Don’t be misled by some fanatical Muslims who go about telling Muslims to abstain from the forthcoming general election.
Scholars of Islam (such as Shaykh AbdulAziz Bin Baaz, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Uthaymeen and Shaykh Nasiruddin Al-Albani, among others) enjoin eligible Muslims to vote for the lesser of two evils or the less harmful candidates to the Muslims.
My family and I have registered today. What are you waiting for? Hurry now, go and register, and vote for the right and God-fearing candidates who will bring about positive change to our dear country, Nigeria.

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But then, you should also admonish Hijabi Muslims not to pull out their ears or remove their Hijabs. It is not only an infringement on their fundamental human rights, it also amounts to disobedience to Allah (SWT) and His messenger (peace be upon him).
– Rasheed Abubakar is a journalist and the author of “Hijab and the Nigerian Press”. Email: |Twitter: @rawshield123

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