WAS THAT INTERVIEW ON ALJAZEERAH STAGE-MANAGED?
I now deem it fit to break my silence after resting for two weeks. Perhaps I should not even talk about resting because I have been engaged in so many activities in the past two weeks that I hardly had time to touch my food. I pity Queen (my wife, Aminah, Queen is my pet name for her and she calls me King). She puts so much into the kitchen ministry and the scintillating aroma from her handiwork keeps me salivating. But do I stop working? No, I am too busy with Queen's rival: my books!
I was preparing for a weeklong trip to Abuja (for a meeting) and Uyo in Akwa Ibom State to attend the National Political Summit on the Future of Nigeria when my phone rang. The voice was both feminine and foreign. She wanted me to grant Al-Jazeerah an interview on the issue of early marriage on Tuesday 3rd September, 2013. I told her I would be out of town, in Uyo. She sounded desperate. I told her my skype account had been discontinued for technical reasons. She asked where I would lodge in Uyo and when I replied with a note of confidence, "Le Meridien" (as if an oppressed teacher has the money to lodge in a five star hotel, thanks to the summit organizers who paid for everything) she said she would arrange with the hotel to allow me to use its facilities.
Somehow the arrangement was made by her even before I arrived in Uyo on Tuesday morning. The interview which I was told would take place at 8 pm did not start until about 8.40 pm. Four of us featured. Former Governor, now Senator, Ahmad Sani, an Havard-based Nigerian Muslim, a female activist from Nigeria and yours sincerely.
I break my silence today because of the obvious bias against my person and Islam during that interview. The organizers, whoever they were, knew what everyone on the programme was going to say. They also had their own agendum regarding who should be allowed to express himself or herself fully and who should be blocked every inch of the way.
I say this because my Al-Jazeerah contact had patiently asked me lots of questions before the D-day and she had listened to my explanations without interrupting me once. Those questions were asked not once, not twice either. I think she gave me 'interviews before the interview' three or four times by telephone between Thursday 29th August and Monday 1st September. I was at home with the topic as I had written some articles on it. My AlJazeerah contact even told me some of the points she had picked from my blog at drishaqakintola.blogspot.com. So she was equally familiar with my arsenal. I guess that was exactly what they did with the others on the interview. They had conducted pre-interviews for them and so they knew their stand.
But what happened at the interview proper was another thing entirely. The Nigerian Muslim who is based in the US had a field day. So did the female activist from Nigeria. I saw the game. The brother from Havard naturally ensured that the interest of Havard was more than adequately protected and I don't blame him. He still has a number of years to stay over there so he gave us the Havard version of Shari'ah which was the licence that bought him the interview's ticket. I was virtually shut out. Those two spent very long times answering 'questions' put to them.
I was allowed to speak after incessant protests and threats that I would walk out if things did not change. They made sure that someone was stationed over there in their studio breathing down my neck, always whispering, "It will soon be your turn. Be patient. Don't worry." A chance I never really had. It was pathetic. I urge my readers to watch the interview again on You Tube and judge.
The first time I was allowed to talk, I was asked what I consider a most unsuitable question. "Professor Akintola, what is VVF?" I told them VVF was not my line of argument. It is the main point being raised by the opposition. I have other points to support the course of Islam instead of wasting precious time defining VVF.
I invite my readers to judge. I was invited as an Islamic scholar to explain the Muslims' side of the story. The feminine activist and her clique were the ones who had been using VVF as an argument against early marriage. Who should be asked that question? But it was thrown at me to cause a digression, to show the world that I was given the chance to speak. Well, speak indeed! I warded it off because I saw through the prank. The anchor lady immediately switched from me to another anointed speaker. It went on and on and on like that. I was not allowed to air my views. This calls professionalism and unbiased reportage to question. I am also tempted to ask, "Is somebody using AlJazeerah to wage war on Islam?"
How can I be rendered dumb on an issue which I had written so profusely on? How can I fail to speak out on AlJazeerah after decades of effectively featuring in similar television interviews on various television channels? Was it a setup? Was it sheer hocus pocus? Was there someone somewhere or a group of people eager to stage-manage an interview on child marriage on an international cable television? In short, was that interview stage-managed? I leave my readers to judge.
Perhaps I should warn fellow Islamic scholars before I stop punching this keyboard. Islamic scholars must be on the lookout. There is an astounding sophistry in the methods being adopted by the West and its cronies to hoodwink the general public and present Islam in bad light.
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