Tuesday, April 15, 2014
From: Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC),
No. 11, Iba Expressway,
Iba, Lagos State
Yahoo Group: firstname.lastname@example.org
The National Conference,
National Judicial Institute,
Mohammed Bello Center,
Adjacent Jabi Junction Fly-over,
P.M.B. 5020 Wuse,
MEMORANDUM OF THE MUSLIM RIGHTS CONCERN (MURIC)
TO THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is a human rights organization which promotes Allah-given and fundamental rights of Muslims in particular and that of all Nigerians in general. We believe that all human rights were first guaranteed by the Supreme Creator, Allah, before homo sapiens sought to incorporate them in man-made laws. Any infringement on the right of man is therefore a sin before Almighty Allah and a violation of the laws made by men.
MURIC is a pacific organization. We are peace-loving, law-abiding and dialogue-prone. We detest violence and this is why our motto is: ‘Dialogue, Not Violence’. As a major mechanism in our operations, we open dialogue with institutions, employers and agencies in order to intervene on behalf of aggrieved Muslims. This has often doused tension in Nigeria and reduced the incidence of spontaneous violence.
In the anatomy of terrorism, we affirm that there is a symbiotic relationship between provocation, injustice, violence and terrorism. Injustice or denial of rights leads to provocation while the latter leads to violence or acts of terror. Justice is the soul of peace. Those who deny one cannot enjoy the other.
MURIC asserts that the anatomy of terrorism cannot be wholly grasped until we examine the cause-effect theory. Terrorism is mere smoke and as it is well known that there can be no smoke without fire, there can be no act of terror without a reason. We posit that provocation, injustice, oppression and persecution are the fires which cause the smoke called terrorism.
A good firefighter will not point his hose at the smoke (terrorists). He focuses his attention on the fire (those who make provocative statements; officials who stigmatize Muslims and those who deny Muslims the rights enjoyed by others and violate Allah-given and fundamental rights of Muslims). The smoke will disappear the moment the fire is extinguished. Equal rights and justice are the solutions to religious violence and terrorism.
We enumerate below those instances and areas where Muslims are provoked, stigmatized and persecuted.
2014 NATIONAL CONFERENCE
2.1.0 STATEMENT OF FACTS
Of the world population of 7,021,836,029 (July 2012 estimate), Christians are 2.1 billion representing 31.5%, Muslims are 1.6 billion representing 23.2% (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_religious_populations) . The religious demography in Nigeria currently stands at 50% Muslim, 40% Christian and Atheists 10% according to http://www.nairaland.com/274676/nigerian-population-muslim-christian-whats. This position is strengthened by the CIA World Factbook (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ni.html2014). Even those who do not agree that Muslims are in the majority in Nigeria have never said Christians are in the majority. For instance, Wikipedia contends that Nigeria is roughly divided in half between Christians, who mostly live in the South and central parts of the country, and Muslims, concentrated mostly in the North. See
In spite of the above glaring facts, and in spite of pre-national conference assurances, the Federal Government perpetrated open injustice by selecting only 184 Muslims as against 309 Christian delegates. This does not reflect the true population distribution of Nigeria’s religious groups.
ISSUES FROM THE STATEMENT OF FACTS:
There is no gainsaying the fact that by its failure to ensure equity and justice in the composition of a National Conference which is expected to right wrongs and address burning issues in this country, the Federal Government itself has started on a wrong footing. It has failed to gain the confidence of Muslims who form an integral part of the country. Muslims who are already at the receiving end of the violation of Allah-given and fundamental human rights cannot expect justice from the outcome of the conference
ARGUMENT IN SUPPORT OF THE ISSUE FOR DETERMINATION:
Justice is the soul of peace. Justice must be done in order to give Muslims a sense of belonging. Democracy must be inclusive, not exclusive.
RELIEFS AND PRAYERS SOUGHT:
We seek two reliefs.
Firstly, no matter how far the conference has gone, additional number of Muslims should be invited to join the national conference. This may be a token number of at least 50. This is in line with the promise made by President Goodluck Jonathan when a Muslim delegation met him to complain about the lopsidedness in the composition of delegates to the national conference.
Secondly, the principle of equal representation between Christians and Muslims must be observed in appointments to all committees of the national conference.
FREEDOM OF RELIGION:
Although the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria affirms freedom of religion in principle, Nigerian Muslims have found this to be deceitful as they are confronted on a daily basis with religious discrimination, persecution and denial of their Allah-given and fundamental human rights.
STATEMENT OF FACTS:
HARRASSMENT OF MUSLIMS BY IMMIGRATION OFFICIALS:
We state by way of example how the fundamental rights of Muslims are encroached upon in Immigration offices all over the country. Immigration officials engage in regular stereotyping of Muslims who apply for international passports. They intimidate Muslims particularly at the point of taking pictures in the following ways:
1. Muslim males are ordered to remove their caps;
2. Imams are coerced into removing their turbans;
3. Bearded Muslims are compelled to shave or trim their beards;
4. Hijab-wearing Muslim women are made to remove their hijabs
5. Or ordered to draw their hijab backwards to reveal their ears.
INTIMIDATION OF MUSLIMS BY OFFICIALS OF NATIONAL IDENTITY MANAGEMENT COMMISSION
Like their counterparts in the immigration department, officials of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) openly usurp Allah-given and fundamental rights of Muslims by insisting that Muslim women must remove their hijabs while they order Muslim males to remove their caps and turbans. Worse still, they refuse to register Muslim names and insist on using the middle names supplied by Muslims. MURIC’s Save-Our-Soul petition to NIMC office was ignored for several days of the tyrannical exercise in 2003 until Muslims were constrained to stage peaceful protests to the NIMC office. The same apartheid treatment is being meted out to Muslims in the ongoing 2014 I. D. card registration exercise.
ISSUES FROM THE STATEMENTS OF FACTS:
As a result of this obnoxious and illegal practice, thousands of Muslims have been scared away from applying for travelling documents. By discriminating against Muslims in the Immigration department, the former are robbed of immense opportunities in the areas of education, economic empowerment, international exposure, etc. Also, by ordering Muslims to jettison their religious identities before their pictures can be captured and rejecting Muslim names in their records, NIMC officials succeed in falsifying Nigeria’s demographic data in favour of Christianity.
ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT OF ISSUES:
There is no law in Nigeria which supports the profiling of Muslims by immigration officials. Every Nigerian citizen has a right to possess an international passport and nothing should be done to stop any law-abiding citizen from obtaining international travelling documents. There is also no existing legal document which stipulates that Muslims should be robbed of their religious identity before they can be given an international passport. In addition, NIMC officials have no documentary backing for usurping the fundamental rights of Muslims. Their falsification of Nigeria’s demographic data in favour of Christianity is also a criminal act capable of igniting religious uprising. Muslims who were forced to remove their caps or hijab have been exposed to unimaginable embarrassment, excruciating psychological trauma and outright deprivation each time they attempt to use the same I. D. cards in banks and other public places. The discrimination against Muslims is an open invitation to chaos, a launching pad for the breakdown of law and order and an efficient recruitment sergeant for religious terrorism.
RELIEF/PRAYER BEING SOUGHT
The Department of Immigrations should issue a circular to all its offices nationwide warning its officials to stop stigmatizing Muslims.
The Nigerian law should criminalise the denial of international travelling documents to law-abiding citizens on account of religious appearance or identity.
NIMC should issue a general circular to all its branches demanding immediate stop of the obnoxious practice of religious profiling by its agents.
All Muslims who had earlier been denied access to image capturing for national identity cards or those who have been forced to take I. D. card pictures without their caps, turbans or hijab should be allowed to come forward for another exercise while fully exercising their Allah-given and fundamental human rights.
MASSIVE DISENFRANCHISEMENT OF MUSLIMS DURING VOTERS REGISTRATION EXERCISES
Muslims suffer massive disenfranchisement each time there is a voters’ registration exercise. Registration officials simply refuse to allow cap-wearing or turban-wearing Muslim males and their hijab-wearing female counterparts to take pictures for the voters’ cards. This was most pronounced during the registration exercise for the 2011 general elections.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
MURIC’s office was inundated with petitions from aggrieved Muslims while we received a tornado of telephone calls from registration centers. Thousands of Muslims lodged complaints of religious profiling against agents of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) who disallowed them from getting registered on account of their religious dresses.
ISSUES FROM STATEMENT OF FACTS
Consequently, these law-abiding and tax-paying Nigerians were not allowed to vote. Yet their only crime was that they were Muslims. Though naturally agitated, MURIC was able to douse the tension by promising to contact the authorities and get redress. We were able to convince them of the need to comply with the true teaching of Islam, namely, peaceful conduct, tolerance and patience in the face of provocation. But the glaring fact was that those who were disenfranchised were Muslims in their thousands. This tantamounts to the manipulation of the process of election in favour of the candidate of a particular religion. The Muslim candidate lost the election. It is a sophisticated form of election rigging and it is further proof that the 2011 presidential election was not free and fair.
ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT OF ISSUES
Here are the real ingredients of religious violence and terrorism. The issuance of voters’ registration exercise is sine qua non for voting. It is a major condition for the actualization of one-man-one-vote. Denial of same facilitates dictatorship and electoral fraud. Democracy is fraudulent if it is non-participatory. At the same time, citizens who are disenfranchised are likely to become frustrated and may vent their spleen through violence.
PRAYERS AND RELIEFS SOUGHT
Prospective voters in future elections must be allowed to wear apparels of their choice during registration exercises so long as they are not naked.
Nigerians enjoy a total of eight (8) public holidays in a year. These are Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Id al-Kabir, Id al-Fitr and Maulud an-Nabiyy.
STATEMENTS OF FACTS
Five (5) of the eight holidays belong to Christians (Christmas Day, Boxing Day, 1st January, i.e, New Year Day, Good Friday and Easter Monday). Only three (3) holidays belong to Muslims, viz, Id al-Kabir, Id al-Fitr and Maulud an-Nabiyy.
ISSUES FROM THE STATEMENTS OF FACTS:
There is open inequality in the issue of holidays in Nigeria particularly if there is evidence that Muslims who have less need more (and they do). Nigerian Muslims have been clamouring for the declaration of 1st Muharram of the Hijrah calendar to be declared as a public holiday for decades. Government have not deemed it fit to listen. The Muslims therefore have a feeling of rejection, marginalization, denial of the dividends of democracy and lack of sense of belonging.
ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT OF ISSUES
Government has a duty in loco parentis to treat all groups equally. Government is the father of all. A government that favours one religious group above the other cannot expect social harmony. Justice is the Soul of Peace. No one can deny one and still enjoy the other in the same way that none can eat his cake and still have it. In the interest of peace, this national conference must visit the injustice perpetrated by the British colonialists against Nigerian Muslims.
1st Muharram of the Hijrah calendar must be declared a public holiday to bring the total number of public holidays enjoyed by Muslims to four (4) while the Christians continue to enjoy a higher number of five (5) public holidays.
WEEKENDS IN NIGERIA
Nigeria has a two-day weekend, viz, Saturday and Sunday.
STATEMENTS OF FACTS
Saturday was a half day during the colonial era and Sunday was the only full day at the weekend. However, Saturday was made a full day during the regime of General Yakubu Gowon, a Christian military ruler. It is also pertinent to say that Sunday is the Christian day of worship generally while Saturday is the day recognized as the day of worship by the Seventh Day Adventists, a Christian denomination.
ISSUES ARISING FROM STATEMENTS OF THE FACTS
It is very clear, therefore, that the two weekend days recognized in Nigeria belong to Christians while Muslims have none since Friday, the Muslim day of worship, remains a working day. The British colonialists, being Christians, designed the weekend days to suit their religion at the expense of Islam.
ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT OF ISSUES
Something must be done urgently to address the gross imbalance in the Nigerian weekend affair. We cannot forget our history because today was born from the wombs of yesterday. Islam has been in Nigeria since the 11th century and the British met Islam on ground when they arrived in the 19th century (800 years later). If the British did not deem it fit to observe the rules of natural justice when they picked the days of Nigeria’s weekend, the need for building a just society in order to foster peace compels a review of the status quo.
The Muslims’ Friday should be declared free to assume parity with the Christians’ Sunday
In the alternative and to avoid the tortuous technicalities involved in 6.5.1 above, Friday should be made a half day (like Saturday in colonial days) in which case all workers will close by 12 noon on Fridays throughout the Federation. This will give the Christians two (2) days (Saturday and Sunday) while Muslims have just half a day.
THE NIGERIAN MARRIAGE ACT 1990
Islamic clerics conduct marriages for Muslims while Christian marriages are conducted by Christian clerics.
STATEMENTS OF FACTS
Christian marriages contracted inside churches or registries are held sacrosanct everywhere in Nigeria whereas Muslim marriages (nikah) are not recognized for any official purpose.
ISSUES FROM STATEMENTS OF THE FACT
It is paradoxical for one marriage conducted by a Nigerian religious group to be acceptable while the other is not. It breeds contempt, ill-feeling and bad blood. These are inconsistent with the yearnings and aspirations of a people struggling to peacefully coexist. It smirks more of the South African apartheid scenario.
ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT OF ISSUES
Peace resides where justice has a foundation.
Islamic marriages should be recognized in all official circles where Christian marriages are recognized.
Uniformed groups in Nigeria include the security agencies uniformed voluntary groups, primary and secondary schools, nurses, the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), etc. All these groups already have approved uniforms dating back to the colonial era. However, some of these uniforms constitute breaches to Islamic dress code and offend the sensitivity of Muslims. However, since Muslims are also part and parcel of these agencies and groups, they are compelled to wear the uniforms like others regardless of their inner feeling of resentment.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
While it is an open secret that Muslim women, as a rule, use hijab as part of their dress, none of the uniforms used by the Nigerian security agencies allow this flexibility.
ISSUES ARISING FROM STATEMENTS OF FACTS
Female policemen, soldiers, immigrations, customs, etc, who are Muslims are compelled to use uniforms which assault their spiritual psyche on a daily basis. Female Muslim youth corpers, for example, who do not even belong to the security apparatus, suffer annually from this trauma.
ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT OF ISSUES
Compulsion to use uniforms which are displeasing to the wearer is capable of killing incentive, causing disaffection and engendering inefficiency. School uniforms which offend the Islamic dressing code are capable of spreading immorality among the youth. Britain is a good example of a non-Muslim environment where Muslim policewomen and Muslim pupils wear uniform-fitting hijab along with their uniforms.
Female Muslims in uniform should be allowed to use hijabs designed to fit their uniforms.
ALHAJI TIJANI SHEHU ALHAJI ABDUL RAZAQ UTHMAN
SECRETARY PUBLIC RELATIONS OFFICER
PROFESSOR ISHAQ AKINTOLA
Sunday, April 13, 2014
VICTIMISATION OF MUSLIM NURSES: MURIC WRITES HOSPITAL MANAGEMENT
The Medical Director,
National Orthopaedic Hospital,
Igbobi, Lagos. 14th April, 2014
VICTIMISATION OF HIJAB-WEARING MUSLIM NURSES
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is an Islamic human rights organization. MURIC is a pacific organization, peace-loving, law-abiding and dialogue-prone. We detest violence and this is why our motto is: ‘Dialogue, Not Violence’.
As a major mechanism in our operations, we open dialogue with institutions, employers and agencies in order to intervene on behalf of aggrieved Muslims.
We believe that this is better than resorting to spontaneous violence or open-air demonstration. Our adoption of dialogue has often doused tension in Nigeria and reduced the incidence of violence.
Sir, you will agree with us that Nigeria has witnessed too many religious conflicts and that what this country needs most today is peace. Therefore any action in the workplace, school or institution which is capable of generating religious crisis or tension of any sort should be avoided.
We were therefore pleasantly surprised on learning of the victimization of two hijab-wearing nurses who are staff in your hospital. Mrs. Fasilat Lawal and Miss S. O. Sanusi were issued querries by the Director of Administartion on account of their wearing hijab.
MURIC appeals to you to quickly intervene in the interest of peace and industrial harmony before the matter degenerates into a full-blown religious crisis. Hijab is a religious duty for Muslim women and failure to use it is a sin against Allah. Any employer who stigmatizes or victimizes a Muslim woman on account of her wearing hijab has also violated her Allah-given and fundamental human right.
Victimization of a Muslim woman for using hijab constitutes a breach of Section 38 (i) & (ii) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution. The African Union Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights proclaims in Article 4, Clause 1 & 2 that “Human beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person.” Nigeria is a signatory to this charter.
The provisions of Article 18 of the United Nations Charter and Articles 9 and 14 of the European Treaty of Human Rights and Articles 18 and 19 of the Treaty of Civil and Political Rights also criminalise religious profiling.
It is therefore a crime to discriminate against a worker on the basis of religion. It is needless to say at this juncture that the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, is a federal health facility where both Christians and Muslims have the right to work.
Medical Director Sir, kindly satisfy all righteousness on these two cases. We want Christian officials to stop using their religion to victimize Muslims. It is an indirect way of seeking forceful conversion of Muslims to Christianity.
Religious crisis will become history if both the Christians and the Muslims in this country allow peace to reign. This can only be possible if Christians leave the Muslims alone and vice versa. Muslims should be allowed to be Muslims while Christians should be allowed to practice their faith without let or hindrance.
Please note that our organization does not issue threats, neither do we engage in violence. But we are determined to explore all available and legitimate channels of dialogue to protect Allah-given and fundamental rights of Nigerian Muslims.
We are prepared to discuss this issue if you invite us to dialogue. We can be reached on telephone numbers 08182119714 and 08098016678. Our email is email@example.com. However, this will not be necessary if the Muslim nurses can be left alone to continue using their hijab.
Thank you for your attention.
Professor Ishaq Akintola Alhaji Shehu Tijani
1. The Chairman, National Orthopaedic Hospital Management Board
2. The Ameerah, Federation of Muslim Women Associations of Nigeria (FOMWAN),
Lagos State Chapter
3. The Ameerah, Criterion,
Lagos State Chapter
4. The Chairman, Nigerian Labour Congress, Lagos State Chapter.
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Have you heard the news? Islamophobia is high up in the news again. This time it is Femi Fani-Kayode who suddenly found new romance in Aso Rock.
After a long period of hostile writings and criticisms in social media, he visited President Jonathan this week because, according to him, APC is planning a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
Wonder who told him that? Wonder where he heard it? Wonder whether he cooked it up and it exists only in the figment of his imagination? Wonder...wonder... wonder...
Femi Fani-Kayode's phobia for a Muslim-Muslim ticket further cements his past hate articles on Islam.
The question for Fani-Kayode is whether the fear of EFCC is the begining of wisdom or the pathological allergy for Islam.
Politicians like Femi Fani-Kayode forget that Muslims too can play the waiting game, unless of course he has no political ambition.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
3rd March, 2014
CAN IN NATIONAL CONFERENCE TO ELIMINATE ISLAM
Bishop Bagobiri said yesterday on the floor of the ongoing national conference that Muslim affairs dominate Nigeria’s constitution. He laid particular emphasis on the occurrence of the words ‘Islam’, ‘Shariah’ and ‘Muslims’ several times in the constitution without any mention of ‘Christ’ or ‘Christianity’.
The bishop’s comment exposes the hypocrisy of the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). A Yoruba adage says when a child rejects pounded yam in the evening, his parents will tell him how his mother was married. Bishop Bagobiri has stirred the hornet’s nest.
We recall that Pastor Tunde Bakare had earlier requested that nobody should bring matters of religion into the conference. The same Christian leaders who said religion should not be brought into the national conference are now the ones making reference to a perceived preponderance of Muslim affairs in the country’s constitution.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) affirms that Christian delegates came to the national conference with an anti-Islam mindset. There is strong evidence in Bishop Bagobiri’s diatribe that our neighbours have a perception complex.
For the records, we remind CAN that the Muslims had established their own way of life 800 years before the advent of the Christian colonialists who forcefully converted them and robbed them of their identity. This is a crime against humanity for which the Christian West which now claims to be the ‘champions’ of freedom and democracy has not accounted for.
Instead of redressing the injustice done to Muslims by the colonialists, successive Nigerian governments have ignored the complaints of Muslims regarding the coercion and intimidation of Muslims in a Nigerian environment which is thickly painted in Christian colour.
Every aspect of life in Nigeria is dominated by Christian culture. Saturday is a work-free day in Nigeria to allow Seventh Day Adventists to worship. Sunday is free for the rest of Nigerian Christians but Friday which is the Muslim’s major day of worship is ignored by the government. Thursday and Friday which were the work-free days in the pre-colonial era were eradicated with colonial fiat. The colonialist’s sense of justice would not stomach sharing and equal rights for Christians and Muslims. Allah-given and fundamental human rights of Muslims were usurped without any qualm.
This gross violation continued even after independence. Nigeria is therefore not truly independent. Nigeria as it stands today is a neocolonialist project serving the purpose of the colonial master and the imperialists alone. To Nigerian Muslims, our so called independence in 1960 was cosmetic, our republican status in 1963 was window-dressing and our democracy today is a monumental fraud.
Today Muslims have become endangered species. Everything has been done to eliminate all vestiges of Islam in the land. Western education dominates our learning without tolerating Islamic education parri passu. The legal system tolerates civil Shari‘ah only in the North. An illegal and categorically anti-Islam dress code operates in the banking sector, the judiciary, the medical profession, public schools, etc. Only marriages conducted in the church or registry are recognized and the registries boldly hang frames of the picture of Jesus (peace be upon him). January 1st of every year is a public holiday but the government shuns 1st Muharram.
This glaring religious apartheid must be revisited at the ongoing national conference. The Nigerian system does not accommodate Muslims and their religion. Muslims are treated like aliens in their own country. Although democracy is all about inclusiveness and participation, that of Nigeria is a horse of another colour.
It is neither inclusive nor participatory. Shari‘ah, Islamic banking, Islamic dress code, Islamic marriage, Islamic education, Islamic holidays, etc, are all excluded simply because they are for Muslims. MURIC pronounces Nigeria guilty of religious profiling and stigmatization of Muslims.
We warn that by attacking Muslims and their religion, Christian delegates in the national conference are playing into the hands of politicians. We fear that this conference is getting embroiled in religious controversy and primordial sentiments.
This chaotic situation fits into the Federal Government’s gameplan, namely, to use the conference as a tool for securing tenure extension. The national conference is a mere kite. Otherwise why did a government that was opposed to the idea of a conference ab initio suddenly show interest? The interest was announced on October 1st 2013 and it took off in March 2014.
Coming at a time when the ruling party was suffering from dwindling fortunes, we strongly suspect that the government flew the national conference kite as a diversion, a saving grace and a gimmick in escapism.
Nigeria did not have enough time to plan this conference and we have started muddling things up. Nigerians were not given enough time to study the list of delegates before the conference began and there was no referendum where the citizens could have made choices. All this is happening a few months to a general election. We smell a rat.
The solution to the religious imbroglio is for the national conference to allow Christians and Muslims to freely express their minds, to study the needs of each religious group and treat both equally by giving each one exactly what the other enjoys. The conference must watch out for any group that insists on blocking the way of another from getting what it is already enjoying. The rule must be ‘live and let live’.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)