A MUSLIM RESPONSE TO THE CATHOLIC BISHOP MEMO TO THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE

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For the good of our nation, we make a passionate plea that Islam must now be ready to be just a religion like others in the country. Otherwise, the present and future unity and religious harmony in our nation will continue to be seriously jeopardised. 
This is mainly a northern problem and this largely for historical reasons. At least until recently, Muslims in the middle belt and especially the Southwest, have lived comfortably with their brothers and sisters of Christian faith, without seeking special attention or status.

The above is an excerpt from a memo of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) to the delegates of the National Conference. The part of the CBCN memo I was privy to was free from offensive, irresponsible conspiracy theories and wild allegations that we are familiar with in the usually reckless and “agberoish” public statements from the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).

Haven said that, We must now respectfully disagree with the esteemed Catholic Bishops, as Nigeria Muslims we see things radically differently from them.

Since colonial days, there has been what appears to be a consistent systematic attempt to force Christianity down the throat of Muslims. This is more evident in the southern part of the country where thousands of Muslim Children seeking formal education were coerced into Christianity for many decades before and after independence. Muslim children, in the region today, are still molested by their Christian principals and teachers, they are made mockery of, the Prophet of Islam is insulted at will and young Muslimah are beaten and sent out of school because they choose to wear the Islamic veil which is a compulsory requirement for Muslim women.

In work places these intolerant behaviour by Christians goes unabated. Several Muslim female Nurses and judicial staffs have lost their jobs in federal and state owned establishments in recent times just because they insist on using the Islamic veil. Apparently, their Christian bosses could not stand the sight of a Muslim woman on Hijab. Higher institutions, particularly law faculties and nursing schools has become battle ground for Muslim female students that want to exercise their fundamental human right to practice their religion by using the Islamic veil and their Christian teachers who insist they dress like Christians. Nursing Students, Nurses and health workers suffer the worst form of maltreatment and humiliation from their Christian bosses and teachers. Muslim immigrant minority communities in Britain are treated better than Muslims in the hands of Christians in Nigeria.

About three years ago, a university authority in River State demolished a student makeshift Mosque in the school campus, this they did after denying the Muslim Students’ authorisation to erect a place of worship within the campus. Officials of the school came, on that fateful Friday, with some machete wading shirtless thugs and bulldozer[s] and they levelled the Mosque to rubble. The Muslim students were prevented from removing from the building their personal belongings which included laptops, books, certificates and other valuables. When they attempted taking pictures with their mobile phones, the mobile phones where confiscated, those who attempted to protest in anger where immediately arrested. Christian fellowships have allocated and makeshift places of worship within the campus, but Muslim Students still observe their prayers five times everyday outside after three years.

The unjust practices of the practitioners of Christianity in Nigeria are so obvious that even a blind can see it crystal clearly. While selecting delegates to the national conference, they selected pastors and Bishops to represent the South-West, a region with arguably more Muslims than any other religion; they did not even have the decency to pick two Muslims in the fifteen man delegation. The North-Central that include Muslim majority states like Kwara, Niger Kogi, Nassarawa and Taraba had just four Muslims delegates and eleven Christians. We do not know of a Muslim in the delegation South-East and South-South. In the Muslim dominated North-East and North-West Christian minority communities where represent in their delegations.

Undoubtedly, it is Christians that should be admonished to let Muslims exist in the space called Nigeria. Muslims have made lots of un-reciprocated sacrifices for Christians in the country. Saturday and Sunday were given as public holiday because Christians could not decide which among the two should be sabbat, yet Christians could not tolerate a Hausa word in Arabic inscription in the Nigeria currency, they had it removed. Nigeria Christians could not even tolerant Islamic banking that operates even in a Christian country like Britain, they raised hell when it was introduced as if there was a law that compared them to bank with it. For joining the Organisation of Islamic Countries OIC, Nigeria had to recognise the racist/apartheid entity of Israel just to please Christians, our honour as Muslims had to be sacrificed so that Christians will be happy.

The summary of the Bishops proposal is that they want the North to abandon the little that is left from our pre-colonial heritage (Shari’ah) for the pleasure of Christianity. While we are asking for our rights to be respected, they want us to give away the little that we have left. The respected Bishops and so many Nigeria Christians see nothing wrong in Muslims being subjected to common law which is Christian law. They fail to acknowledge the reality that the religion of Muslims is Islam and not Christianity and that the law of Muslims is the Shari’ah and not common law.

Our message to our Christian brothers and sisters is that we are not seeking special attention and status as the Bishops seems to suggest, what we want [and we will get in sha Allah one way or the other] is to be allowed to be Muslims and practice our religion which is Islam. Islam and Christianity are two different religions and should be treated as such. It is not justice to subject two different people with different moral values and way of life to a particular system without taking into cognizance their individual peculiarities.

I believe I speak for every Muslim who knows his or her worth that we refuse to continuously under the shadows of Christianity. If you want me to become a Christian, preach Christianity to me and do not force it down my throat. We will spit it out even if we I have to cough out our lungs along with it. Let us know our limits, live and allow others to live. This ought not to be difficult.

IGHO HAKEEM OHWOJEHERI
Twitter handler @naijainfoman
Khartoum, Sudan

 

NB

If you find this piece offensive, there is nothing I can do to help you. But if you dispute any fact therein, consider this an open invitation to write a enjoinder. Thanks.

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