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Nigerian law graduate denied call to bar over hijab

Amasa Firdaus 'dress code violation' sparks fierce debate on social media, with many calling for #JusticeforFirdaus.

Amasa Firdaus

A Nigerian law school graduate was denied her call to the bar for refusing to take off her headscarf.

Amasa Firdaus Abdulsalam was not permitted by the Body of Benchers to enter the International Conference Centre on December 12 where the call to bar is usually held.

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

The hijab is a headscarf worn by many Muslim women who feel it is part of their religion.

According to local reports, Abdulsalam 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.

The call to bar is the official moment where an individual is sworn into a law society or court and obtains licensing to practise law in that jurisdiction.

Abdulsalam can be called to the bar next year only if she is regarded as having complied with all the rules.

The President of Nigerian Bar Association A.B. Mahmoud vowed that the association would look into the situation.

"UK based Nigerian lawyer recognized for promoting diversity in the legal profession," Mahmoud tweeted, posting a photo of Olufunke Abimbola, who was recently recognised by Queen Elizabeth II for her contributions to promoting diversity in the legal profession.

"The NBA will embrace diversity and tolerance in the Nigerian legal profession," Mahmoud continued, adding that "the Hijab issue will be addressed."

He also tweeted a photo of his daughter Zubaida, who also wears a hijab, being admitted to the New York Bar earlier this year.

The case has sparked an intense debate on social media, with the hashtag #JusticeforFirdaus being used.

One Twitter user pointed out that Abdulsalam should have known better and complied with the rules.

Others said that the hijab is indicative of a larger problem to impose Islam in public institutions. 

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