A Nigerian church has banned its female congregation from wearing headwraps amid security fears
St Theresa’s Cathedral Church in the south-eastern state of Enugu, introduced the measure saying the tall headwraps - known as a gele - formed a 'barricade' when women sit together on a row.
At a mass on Sunday, Reverend Father Uche Obodoechina explained that the ban would take effect from September 9 because the geles make identification difficult.
'Please, in view of the present security challenges, the church has urged women to stop coming to Sunday service with big headgears and bags to enable security men know when bomb will be smuggled into the church,' he told worshippers reported the Nigerian Tribune.
The church has directed security men at the church gate to seize big headgears and bags.
'This measure is aimed towards enhancing the security of the faithful during Sunday mass' he added. Geles have been worn by Nigerian women for generations and are usually worn by females with a traditional attire, for special occasions like weddings, naming ceremonies, burials, church services, and religious celebrations.The gravity-defying wraps come in different fabrics such as damask, brocade.
Among Nigerian women, one of the most popular fabrics is a metallic cloth made from jacquard.The decision to ban them was meet with surprise as Catholic churches in Nigeria usually state that women must cover their heads during a mass.
But the crackdown is thought to be in reaction to a series of attacks by militant Islamist group Boko Haram on churches in northern and central Nigeria in recent months as part of an insurgency that has killed hundreds.
Earlier this month gunmen opened fire on an evangelical church during a service in central Nigeria, killing at least 19 people.
Boko Haram has also attacked Muslim figures as well as a range of other targets, including the United Nations building in the Nigerian capital Abuja.
In mid-July, a bomb went off near another church in Okene, but there were no casualties.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said in June that Boko Haram was seeking to incite a religious crisis by attacking churches in an attempt to destabilise the government.
Mr Jonathan described how the group had moved from targeting local rivals to government institutions and now churches.
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