In Nigeria’s Osun State, school uniforms are the new weapons in a cold war between religions

The topic of school uniforms is known for being dull and unexciting. That is, everywhere else other than Nigeria’s Osun State where school uniforms have become a weird weapon of choice in a battle between Muslims and Christians. Should we all be grateful when people put more deadly weapons aside and instead fight over what religious clothing to wear to the classroom?

It all started with a court case and went downhill from there.
Nigeria’s Osun State, in the north of the country, has many Christians and Muslims living side by side. Like in much of the north, religious tensions are a fact of life in Osun State. So Governor Rauf Aregbesola, a Muslim himself, had to know what he was getting into when he adopted plans, back in 2012, to “reclassify” schools. The new plans would see some Muslim students sent to study in Christian schools.
Christian-run schools agreed to admit Muslim students but they stopped short of allowing them to wear religious garments like the hijab to school. An association representing Muslims took the matter to court. In early June 2016, a judge ruled in favour of the Muslim association and ordered the school, Baptist High School, to allow Muslim students to wear religious garments to the class room.
No machetes, just choir robes
Baptist High School high school, which is appealing the judge’s decision, has decided to demonstrate its disagreement with the ruling in a strange way: it has allowed Christian students to turn up in school wearing their own religious garments. Twitter postings show the students have mostly been showing up in school wearing brightly coloured choir robes, some even with marching berets.
Christian-run schools agreed to admit Muslim students but they stopped short of allowing them to wear religious garments like the hijab to school.
Bigger crisis 
Some are worried that the cold war between faiths in Osun State might turn hot in the coming days and could start a fire that is hard to put out.
Many disagree with this analysis, insisting the troubles in Osun State are a tempest in a teacup. This group says the focus on the school uniform fallout is unhelpful and distracts from the fact that students in Osun State have much bigger problems, especially given their dismal performance in last year’s West African Examination Council(WAEC) exams.
Heated debate 
What is clear, however, is the crisis in Osun state has set off an interesting debate about school uniforms and whether they are even necessary at all.

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