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Islamic New Year: Muslim groups demand holiday

SOME Islamic groups have called on the federal and state governments to declare Muharram 1, the first day of the Islamic Hijrah calendar, as a public holiday.

The groups, in separate messages, said such a declaration would be in line with the rule of law, fairness and justice to Muslims in Nigeria.

The demand came from the Muslim Media Practitioners of Nigeria (MMPN), Obafemi Awolowo University Muslim Graduates Association (UNIFEMGA) and the Muslim Community of Oyo State (MUSCOYS), National Council of Muslim Youth Organisations (NACOMYO), Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) and Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN).

MMPN, in its statement signed by its president, Abdur-Rahman Balogun, urged the Federal Government to give recognition to the Muslims’ New Year in the interest of fairness.

Balogun said that declaring Muharram 1 a public holiday would give Muslims a sense of belonging.

In the same vein, UNIFEMGA, in its message signed by Abdulwaheed Odeyimka, its National President, called on the government at various levels to recognise the Hijrah calendar and use it side by side with the Gregorian calendar.

Odeyimka also called  for an end to the prolonged strikes in the education sector in the interest of the students and educational advancement in Nigeria.

In his message, the chairman of MUSCOYS, Alhaji Ishaq Sanni, said the declaration and recognition of Hijrah was long overdue and called for its immediate implementation.

Sanni equally called for stringent measures against rape in the country, saying the crime was getting too rampant because the culprits always get away with it.

On its part, NACOMYO implored Muslims to rededicate themselves to the cause of building an egalitarian society and join hands with other Nigerians in moving the nation forward.

The Oyo State coordinator of NACOMYO, Alhaji Dawood Afolabi, reminded Nigerians that the task of making the country a virile nation was a collective responsibility.

He described the series of attacks on innocent Nigerians by some insurgent groups as un-Islamic and pleaded with the affected groups to stop the violence.

MSSN, in its Hijrah message, hailed those governors who had declared Muharram 1 as public holiday and urged the rest as well as the Federal Government to emulate.

The Muslim students’ group also expressed worry on prolonged strikes in schools, calling on all stakeholders to resume dialogue in the interest of students and educational development in Nigeria.