Wednesday, March 19, 2014
ISLAMOPHOBIA AT NATIONAL CONFERENCE
20th March, 2014
ISLAMOPHOBIA AT NATIONAL CONFERENCE & MANIPULATION OF DELEGATES LIST: DANGEROUS SIGNPOSTS
The National Conference kicked off successfully in Abuja on Monday, 17th March, 2014. Unfortunately, it resumed the next day on a controversial note. Pastor Tunde Bakare, a South-West delegate, criticized the conference Chairman, Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi, for starting his speech with a prayer in Arabic.
Tunde Bakare’s attack is rather unfortunate. His criticism arose from premeditation. It is known all over the world that individual Muslims start speeches with a short Arabic phrase in which they seek Allah’s guidance in their utterances and Justice Kutigi did not do more than that. MURIC affirms clearly, unequivocally and unambiguously that the revered jurist has every right to do this.
Tunde Bakare’s outburst was therefore a manifestation of pathological hatred for Muslims and their faith. His behavior smirked of a gross lack of tolerance for the faith of others and portrays the pastor as an enforcer. Attempting to stop the chairman from using his faith to guide him is an encroachment on the latter’s Allah-given and fundamental human right.
MURIC expects Pastor Tunde Bakare to understand that a conference of this magnitude requires, first and foremost, mutual respect, understanding and tolerance of the highest order; not suspicion, rancour and ill-feeling.
Delegates need to guard their tongues and watch their language because a rancorous body language emerging from the national conference is capable of sending this country up in flames.
Tunde Bakare has stirred the hornet’s nest by firing the first salvo. His request that religion should not be brought into the national conference is unrealistic, deceitful and hypocritical. Nigerians are religious people and this should reflect in our deliberations unless we want to deceive ourselves.
The colonialists themselves bequeathed to us a controversial religious setting which must be discussed and reviewed at this conference. The status quo is chaotic. It must change. It must be done today, not tomorrow. This is the right time to address issues objectively. It is not the time for sentimentalities.
However, MURIC appeals to Muslim delegates in the conference not to pay the pastor back in his own coins. We reject the list of delegates as it stands and we advise the presidency to exhibit true patriotism, political maturity and compliance with democratic norms by reviewing the delegates list which has been massively tilted to favour Christians in the country.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is not unaware that the list of South-West delegates was deliberately drawn to marginalize Muslims who form majority of the zone’s population. We strongly suspect that such delegates are meant to serve as arrow-head in a plot to launch attacks on Muslim personalities and frustrate ideas proposed by Muslims at the conference. The same trend has been noticed in many parts of the country.
We urge the presidency to attend to the protest letter submitted by the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs on this matter in order to ensure cohesion in the conduct of the ongoing national conference. We warn that the manipulation of delegates list by the presidency is a dangerous signpost.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)