6th January, 2012
BOKO HARAM: IS IT ABOUT MUSLIM GRIEVANCES?
Boko Haram Thursday attacked a branch of the Deeper Life Bible Church in Gombe, killing six worshippers including the wife of the pastor, Johnson Tauro, and injuring ten others. The affected branch of the church is located in Nasarawo district of Gombe town, which is also the capital of Gombe State.
We of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) condemn this barbaric aggression. Places of worship should be held in reverence. The attack is therefore sacriledgious. We denounce Boko Haram's violent approach particularly its attacks on rival religious targets.
MURIC affirms clearly, unequivocally and unambiguously that Boko Haram is not fighting for Nigerian Muslims. The Qur'an does not teach aggression. Muslims are only permitted to defend themselves according to Qur'an 3:90-93. We call on Nigerians not to view the satanic acts of Boko Haram as representative of actions of Nigerian Muslims. This is the handiwork of a few misinformed, misguided elements and disgruntled elements.
MURIC charges the security agencies to effectively identify and isolate the Boko Haram sect in order to put an end to its excesses. We affirm that Boko Haram has become a huge embarrassment for Muslims in the country.
Nonetheless, we jog the memory of Nigerians and ask all stakeholders to ponder over the numerous demands and agitations of law-abiding Muslims over the decades. Whereas those demands were legitimate and presented with civility and decorum, they were always confronted with tornadoes of threats and blackmail. The Nigerian minority elite class (who should know better) always wrongfully and conspiratorially accused Muslims of attempting to Islamize Nigeria whereas Nigeria is already a Christianized country and all the Muslims are asking for is the creation of an equilibrium.
Successive Nigerian government is neck-deep in this conspiracy of Islamophobia. Government's deafening silence over Muslim demands gave the impression that there was no hope. The average Nigerian Muslim today has become cynical of the system. It is our belief that the frustrations felt by Muslims over the years concerning the open contempt and ridicule which always greeted their legitimate demands led to the emergence of the Boko Haram phenomenon.
Post-Nigerian independence inherited a political, legal, educational and socio-economic climate that was Christian-compliant but totally anti-Islam. All calls for a review of this lopsided arrangement to make it all embracing and truly democratic fell on deaf ears because the status quo favoured the Christians and the elite. Nobody cared to listen to the Muslims. Nigeria's democracy is therefore a big fraud. The Western axis of the Nigerian press has also been a major player in this Islamophobia. Every available evidence points to the persistence of an asymmetrical press. Muslims are more often than not denied the right of response and participation.
For the avoidance of doubt, some of the demands of Nigerian Muslims over the years include work-free Friday as parity for work-free Sunday which is in favour of Christians only; hijab as part of school uniform for Muslim girls; the teaching of Islamic Religion in the South West as Muslim children are being forced to take Bible Knowledge in public schools; return of Arabic to the naira; introduction of civil Shari'ah in the South West; the banning of preaching inside commercial buses; banning of any loudspeaker noise whose duration is longer than ten minutes in all places of worship; approval for female Muslim bankers, nurses, police, etc to use hijab (Muslim women in hijab are currently being denied employment in many professions in Nigeria); etc.
It is our considered opinion that although its approach may be wrong, the Boko Haram experience is another dimension of the pent-up anger and frustration felt by Nigerian Muslims. Boko Haram may have been expressing its opposition to the status quo in its own way. While condemning Boko Haram's violent propensity, we believe the time is now ripe for a holistic consideration of the demands of Muslims which have always been swept under the carpet. MURIC hereby adds its voice to the deafening call for a Sovereign National Conference to address these and many other issues.
Is-haq Akintola (Ph.D),
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC),
Yahoo Group: groups.yahoo.com/group/muslimrights
Be just Justice is the soul of peace
No one can deny one and have the other
Neither can violence or naked force bring lasting peace