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Saturday, July 2, 2022

Religion extremism is a threat to Nigeria’s unity


In the last couple of days, many Nigerians have been traumatised by the event which happened at the Shehu Shagari College of Education, in Sokoto State. The killing of Deborah Samuel, a student of the school who was accused by some Muslim fanatics of blasphemy has again driven home the danger embedded in religious extremism.

The event in Sokoto which has snowballed into massive protest subsequently shows that the country’s unity is fragile because of the glaring differential in our values, sense of justice and ability to appreciate issues from a different perspective without resorting to violence or self-help.

First, the killing of Deborah Samuel by a mob of Islamic students at the College of education has all the tendencies of people who have no value for human life and respect for the rule of law. The sanity of those people and their so-called commitment to faith is questionable.

While as a Christian leader, I have always advocated respect for other religions regardless of personal conviction, the extreme reaction by those mob to what they considered as the violation of their religion by the victim is condemnable.

Nigeria is a nation that is governed by the rule of law and there are prescribed punishments for the violation or what could be considered a breach of any rule in our laws. For a group of individuals to take the law into their hands in reaction to what they considered as injurious to their faith is an indication that something is definitely wrong with their orientation and perspective about religion and life itself.

From all I have garnered since the event of last week, it was obvious that Muslims are taught to protect the person and the image of their foremost prophet, and it is also true that their scripture has prescribed some punishment for certain desecration of their religion.

Also from my own understanding, sharia law is similar to the law of Moses as can be found in the Bible, which also prescribed certain punishments for the violation of the scripture including blasphemy.

I have never seen a group of Christain resorting to violence and barbarism in their bid to enforce the canonical law as contained in the old testament in reaction to blasphemy or desecration of the symbol of their religion.

It’s a common thing to hear Islamic preachers openly denounce the Christain belief that Jesus Christ is the son of God by saying God neither have a child nor was he given birth to by anybody.

Nonetheless, because religion is a personal relationship between a man and his God, all other laws are subjected to the supreme law of the land regardless of what our scripture teaches.

No man is permitted to take the law into his hands in a civilised society no matter what the situation or circumstances may be, we are under the law, otherwise, society will turn into a jungle ruled by animals.

Government at all levels should stand to be counted in the enforcement of the rule of law and all those who are enablers of evil teachings must be extricated from among us and be made to face the full weight of the law.

What happened last week was an indication that there are many religious leaders in our midst who are polluting the minds of our youth with heresy and false interpretations of their religious books without regard to the peace of society.

It’s also an eye-opener to the fact that the country’s educational system is not working to produce quality minds rather, the system seems to have been hijacked by extremists who recruit young people to carry out their devilish agenda to damage the society.

Though the details of her comment were yet to be known, it was said that a group of Muslim students felt her comment was a blasphemy against the most respected prophet of their religion.

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The killing of Deboral Samuel was gory and barbaric and this also spark debate over what is the stand of Islam on such mob action in response to blasphemy and how should such issues be treated under the law of the country?

I can’t pretend to know more about Islam beyond the prevalence of the action of some fundamentalists who resort to killing those who they tagged infidels and anyone who does not align with their belief.

Though there have been efforts by some moderates to discourage the sustained association of Islam with terrorism and violence across the globe, it’s becoming virtually impossible to reconcile their position with the prevalent actions of their brethren.

I want to believe that those who engaged in violence in the name of defending their religion are generally misguided and do not follow the tenet of the religion they claim to be defending.

But the killing in the name of religion in the northern part of the country is becoming worrisome and intolerable particularly when those who ought to intervene to prevent such are playing the ostrich and at best providing subtle cover for the perpetrators of evil.

The incident last week was a reminder that the large population of northern youth have been polluted by religious bigotry and has twisted the teaching of Islam to enslave their people in order to perpetuate their enslavement.

The United Arab Emirate (UAE) is a nation of Islam, yet the kind of evil being perpetrated in Nigeria in the name of religion is never heard of in that part of the world. Same for Singapore, Malaysia and other countries with large Muslim populations, where they have deep respect for human dignity and respect for the rule of law.

Why are some of our brothers from the north portraying their religion in a bad light despite evidence from those who are knowledgeable among them that says Islam abhorred violence?

Why are those in government providing enabling environment for such violence through their action and inaction?

The country cannot make any progress if some of our brothers from the North continue to play up politics of violence in resolving whatever perceived wrong done against their religion.

The first step to nipping such in the bud is for our government to rise up to the occasion and enforce the law of the land in dealing with those miscreants who perpetrated such evil in the name of religion.

The government should also clamp down on those Islamic scholars who engage in perverting the tenant of Islam for their selfish benefit.

Human life is important in the sight of God, no matter the name that is given to Him while the act of shedding innocent blood should not be allowed to go unpunished.

The Christain community should begin to speak out against some of the evil being perpetrated against our brethren while strong action should be taken to ensure that the criminals are brought to book.

In this country, humans should not be allowed to fight for their God as it is no man is capable of fighting for God unless such god is not worth the name associated with it. The violent protest that followed the killing of Deborah by the mob has also shown that beyond the issue of religion, there are other underlining factors which continue to trigger violence in that part of the country.

It is becoming obvious in the manner the protesters targetted people from the southern part of the country in their protest against the arrest of the perpectuators of the killing of Deborah that religion could be a cover for those who are promoting evil in the north.



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