John DavidSunday, November 24, 2002


o one ought to be held guilty of any criminal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence under national or international law at the time it was committed.It is therefore outrageous and most reprehensible to arrest ThisDay's Editor and Isioma for speculating about Prophet Mohammed. It is a knee-jerk reaction to toady to radical Islamic cabals. It is equally an outright attempt to criminalize their thought and we are all entitled to freedom of thought and expression. We are all unique and our thought is bound to be unique and consequently no harm should flow from expressing our own thought. It is in fact a peremptory point of virtue that our freedom of thought and expression be sacrosanct.

You cannot expect not to have a wild speculation, that is what comes with the territory in a democracy. Nigeria is not a theocracy! And if the Moslems find Isioma’s and ThisDay Editor’s opinion objectionable, is this savage wave of violence and carnage the ideal response? Do the Moslems know whether these two are Christians in the first place and even if the are, are they the very embodiment of Christianity so as to regard their subjective opinion a reflection of all Christianity? Does it ever figure in the scheme of things of the Moslems to turn the other cheek? Why do Moslems have morbid fascination with death and take malicious delight in the killing of Christians?

The ostensible reason for the carnage is the profanation of Islam by ThisDay; the real reason is the attempt by Nigeria to host Miss World Beauty Pageant. This is what profanes their religious belief. The seemingly innocuous comment by ThisDay is merely used as a disguise otherwise the subsequent retraction of the supposedly offending comment and the tendering of such elaborate apology should have disarmed and dispelled their anger.

At a time that Nigeria has been subjected to a glare of negative publicity, at a time that Nigeria is searching for other sources of generating revenue, the occasion of Miss World was an ideal vehicle to project an acceptable image of the country and thereby boost tourism. Instead, those who are not comfortable with a Christian leader used it is an occasion to prove that Nigeria is indeed the last outpost of civilization. One should note that Nigeria is no more Islamic than Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria. All these countries are busy promoting their tourist industry. As no one reads about them stoning people to death, or amputating thieves., tourists gravitate there. Why then does Nigeria relentlessly adopt isolationist policies which are suicidal to her interests? Moslems all over the world are trying to redeem and rehabilitate themselves in the eyes of the world following terrorist outrage in New York, Washington and Bali, why then do Moslems in Nigeria behave in a manner consistent with the perception that Moslem is a violent religion?

The carnage is far from being a spontaneous affair. It was carefully stage-managed by the powers that be. They did not want Miss World contest in Nigeria in the first place. It was designed for the consumption of Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran. The Sharia States in Nigeria cannot survive without the financial assistance of these countries and they certainly would listen to them sympathetically the next time they approach Iran and Saudi Arabia holding out a begging bowl now that the contest has been yanked from Nigeria. To blame ThisDay for the carnage therefore, is absolutely beyond the pale!

How amazing then to read of one Abdulrazaque’s blanket exoneration of Moslem writers of blamable journalism! The Pope, the priests and pastors are pilloried and savaged daily by Moslem writers. Mr Abdulrazaque asserts unabashed that the Moslem writers are always very "careful and sensitive." This is really a sleight of hand manner of blaming the Christians yet again! for always instigating violence. Does he have a record of every article written by a Moslem writer? Which data was he analyzing to draw such a favourable inference about Moslems writers? And if such data were available, modesty should not permit him to embark on such act of self-righteousness. No one can expect him to analyze such data with scientific detachment for no one should be a judge in his own cause!

And since there is a great deal of political rivalry and sectarianism within the country, since there is increasing polarization between the Christians and the Moslems and since there is a systematic and brutal pogrom against the Christian minority living in the north and as this tendency is capable of spiraling into violent balkanization of the country, and as we seemingly have nothing in common perhaps we should amicably part company. For this cycle of wanton destruction of life and limb by the Moslems cannot be endured indefinitely.