Hisbah orders shops in Kano to use headless mannequin to advertise clothing

The Islamic police force in Kano, a Muslim-majority state in Nigeria, has raised eyebrows after it ordered shops to only use headless mannequins to advertise clothing.

“Islam frowns on idolatry,” Haruna Ibn-Sina, the commander of the Sharia police known as the hisbah, told the BBC.

“With the head on it looks like a human being,” he added.

Mr Ibn-Sina also wants the headless mannequins covered at all times because to show “the shape of the breast, the shape of the bottom, is contrary to the teachings of Sharia [Islamic law]”.

Kano is one of 12 states in the Muslim-majority north that practise Islamic law. The legal system is supposed to apply only to Muslims.

But in reality, non-Muslims come under pressure to adhere to the hisbah’s rulings, including the ban on full-bodied mannequins.

“We have received lots of calls and messages from those who say they disagree with the order,” said Moses Ajebo, a radio talk-show host in Kano city, the second-biggest in Nigeria.

Traders at Sabon Gari, a Christian-dominated part of Kano state, also expressed their displeasure with the hisbah’s order.

Shop owner Chinedu Anya said that displaying clothes on a headless mannequin would reduce their attractiveness to passers-by and affect his business.

Mr Ibn-Sina and his officers – who number in the thousands, and are made up of both men and women – have not yet gone shop-to-shop to enforce the ban.

Nevertheless, there are concerns that it adds to the list of the hisbah’s pronouncements that clash with secularism and modernity.

Last week Mr Ibn-Sina criticised photos from the bridal shower of Zahrah Bayero, the fiancée of President Muhammadu Buhari’s son, Yusuf.

He said she failed to set a good example to other Muslims as the photos showed her exposed shoulders.

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