Kenya: Muslims at Kenya Medical college barred for wearing hijab

NAIROBI, Kenya (AA): Female Muslim students at the Kenya Medical Training College in Mwingi town were denied entry Friday for wearing the hijab.

Several female Muslim students at the Kenya Medical Training College in Mwingi, have accused the school’s management of discrimination, after they were barred from accessing the school, while wearing Hijabs.

The students said the issue over their dress code started around two months ago after a new deputy principal was transferred to the college who vowed to ban Muslim students from wearing the hijab, saying it was not part of the school uniform.

“Our female students have not been able to attend school for the last three days as the management has directed the gatekeeper not to allow them [to enter] in their hijabs,” Abdullahi Hassan, a male student, told the Nation newspaper in Kenya.

Yusuf Abdullahi, an official from the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM), told Anadolu Agency: “We are aware of what has happened today. We want the issue to be sorted out by the Ministry of Education to avoid the discrimination that we are seeing. We as Muslim leaders will not remain silent.”

This is not the first time that such a case is being reported in Kenya. A Methodist school, St. Paul Kiwanjani High School, in Isiolo County filed a petition at the High Court in September 2016 to ban Muslim girls from wearing the hijab at school. Other high schools and colleges have also banned the hijab, forcing Muslim students to transfer elsewhere.

Kenya’s High Court previously ruled that students should not be allowed to wear different attire at school, saying it encouraged religious and status divisions. But the Court of Appeal later overturned the High Court’s verdict and ruled in favor of allowing Muslim girls to wear the hijab, saying school rules could not be allowed to suppress one’s belief or right of worship.

Appellate Judges Philip Waki, Roselyne Nambuye and Patrick Kiage advised the Education CS to facilitate urgent consultations and formulate appropriate regulations “for the better protection of the fundamental right to freedom of religion and belief under Article 32 of the Constitution and equality and freedom from discrimination under Article 27 of the Constitution for all pupils and students in Kenya’s educational system.”

The trustees of the Methodist Church, which sponsors the school, had sued the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), the Isiolo County Education Director and the sub-county’s education officer claiming they had flouted the school regulations and interfered with the running of the institution.

The Church had argued that the decision to allow the female Muslim students to dress differently had created animosity and discord among the student population.

“We find and hold that there was no factual or legal basis for the holding by the learned Judge that allowing Muslim girls to wear Hijab favoured Muslim girl students and discriminated against non-Muslims,” Justices Waki, Nambuye and Kiage said. St. Paul’s Kiwanjani Day Mixed Secondary School in Isiolo County.

The decision by the appeals court is not final and can be appealed again at the High Court by any aggrieved party.

Additional report by The Muslim News

                           By Andrew Wasike and Magdalene Mukami