FEATURE ARTICLE


Tonye David-West, Jr., Ph.DWednesday, November 27, 2002
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ibnaija@yahoo.com
Political Scientist
USA


DEAR MOSLEMS!


his letter is specifically for you, NORTHERN NIGERIAN MOSLEMS and those who partook in this show of shame in protest of the Miss World pageant, bringing disgrace and opprobrium to all of us. Iím ashamed of you, Iím ashamed of your barbaric actions. It's evident that some of you need to attend anger management classes. What do I mean by this? To answer this question, it is crucial we evaluate the methods which some of you, northern Nigerian Muslims, choose from time to time to address affronts on your religion, real or imagined. It seems from past events that violence is the preferred method. Am I wrong? The violent events in the last few days in Kaduna and Abuja serve as a reminder of this grim fact.

In light of the irresponsibility of ThisDay Newspaper and distasteful publication, one would have expected, you, northern Nigerian Muslims, to protest in a manner most would consider congruent with civility, such as orchestrating a civil boycott of the newspaper until it offers a sincere and acceptable apology. Or educating the faithfuls to write letters of protest to the management, the federal government or the Nigerian Union of Journalist. There are many acceptable avenues you could have addressed this malfeasance besides taking the laws into your hands. This seems to be the trend, which in most cases, have caused you heavy losses.

Tell me, how does killing and maiming innocent people take you to heaven? How does destruction of churches, God's own house of worship, put you in good stead with Allah? How does that work? Are you doing all this because of the seventy-two virgins who are supposingly waiting for you when you get there? Do you get any rewards for killing and destruction? Are you not concerned with your image? In Kaduna 2000, in Jos 2002, in Kano 2001, remember the Osama riots? In Zaria, in Kafancha, in Maiduguri.

In this Miss World riots which has yet again brought out the worst in you, I fail to see the connection between the journalistic error of ThisDay and the destruction of churches and killing of Christians. Could you be so kind to clue me in on the connection? This is puzzling to say the least, as ThisDay is not a religious organization neither is it representing any Christian organizations. The newspaper is a secular one which is dedicated to the dissemination of secular news. How did the violence progress from destruction of the newspaper's offices in Kaduna and Bauchi to making the Christians and their places of worship as co-enemies? This question has to be answered.

Many of you contribute to the perception of Muslims as being violent with such rush to wanton destruction of lives and properties at the slightest tension. Can you blame anyone for seeing you as such? What are you going to do about this? Is this what you want the world to think of you and your religion which you so love and are willing to die for? Think about this question real hard the next time you pick up that dagger to terminate the life of a fellow human being because he does not look like you or profess the same religion. Seemingly, many of you have not shown the tolerance which Christians or should I say, southerners, those who share fifty percent of the country with you have shown you.

In Port-Harcourt, for example, a Christian enclave from all accounts, many streets [Victoria, Bende, Niger, streets, etc] are closed for hours during Friday prayers, bringing traffic to a halt in an already congested city during Friday prayers. The good people of Port-Harcourt are giving you in Port-Harcourt this privilege to block public streets so that you can pray. Mind you, most of you do not have jobs in Port-Harcourt besides selling "suya" and pushing trucks and as such do not pay taxes. But yet, the public streets which are sustained by tax payers are closed for you for hours on Fridays. This has been happening for more than twenty years. And this is a state where there is less than 1 percent Muslim population. So tell me, could this happen in Kano? Could this happen in Kaduna? Could this happen in Sokoto? Could this happen in Zamfara? Do most of you know what it means to be tolerant of others? Does the word accommodation mean anything to you? Arenít you tired of killing, killing and killing?

You say that you want one Nigeria. Are you serious? Are you really serious? Letís be frank now. The time for shenanigan has gone. You have Shariah law in twelve states and the rest of the country has common law. Is this your one Nigeria? Is this your idea of tolerance? Is this how you are accommodating other? If you want your way of life, why donít you leave the rest of the civilized world alone? Why donít you do us all a favor and declare your Islamic Republic where you can stone women all you want and cut limbs? Why are you still holding tight to Nigeria? What are you afraid of? That you will starve to death if you declare that republic? That none of you is qualified to lead your universities? That you do not have the know-how to run your industries? Why donít you call on Saudi Arabia to send in their experts? Maybe Afghanistan can help? Maybe Iran can send a few bearded mullahs to teach you how to cut limbs and stone women.

Iím not interested anymore. You can go away for all I care. It has been a mistake from the very beginning. Your days of parasiting are over. Itís better we go our separate ways. Donít you think so? What do you think? Your behavior is repugnant, shameful and atrocious. Donít forget that you have no more right to that country you think itís an Islamic country than anyone else. Most of you have learned nothing from elder statesman Mallam Aminu Kano of blessed memory. Most of you know nothing about finesse, tact and diplomacy. All you know is to kill destroy and kill again. What is it with you and killing? Is that your calling? To have blood on your hands with every tension? Your stock never runs dry of gasoline and matches to light the fire. Do you work around the streets with those items? It seems each time there is little tension, you are quick to burn and destroy.

There is a saying which goes thus: Ďbecause I am ignoring you does not mean that I am deafí It will be a grave error to assume that the Christians in the country are weak because they choose to be civil by not burning down your mosques and killing Muslims at every provocation, of which, there have been many, to say the least. Christians often times have been on the receiving end of your wrath often for something that could have been discussed and redressed in a very peaceful manner. Every inconsequential provocation seemingly results in violence. A Christian truck driver inadvertently runs over a Quran in Kano, he was killed instantly. Christian nurses continue to be persecuted in Bauchi at a federal, not state, but federal health facility by Muslims.

If, you, the northern Nigerian Muslims, want to disabuse others of the perception they have of you of thriving in violence, you will have to begin by addressing your own reactions to events. You tell us that Islam is a great and peaceful religion, if so, you must uphold these attributes with your actions, words and deeds. If not, those who watch you would be led to believe otherwise. Are you insecure? Why do you feel the need to fight each day for your religion? Why donít you let your religion speak for itself? How many times have you heard or seen the Christians destroying your Mosques and killing Moslems in the south? How many times? Do you not think we too can slaughter you like animals?

We were told that rioting broke out in Abuja immediately after Friday prayers. What do your Imams tell you at those prayers? Aren't prayers supposed to bring you closer to Allah? Aren't the Imams supposed to preach peace and tolerance? What do they tell their worshipers? What are their responsibilities to their congregations? Respect is reciprocal, tolerance is a dual street and if it is not returned we would continue to have riots such as this and retaliatory ones such as the one we saw in Aba two years ago which took many Muslims lives. You donít have a monopoly on violence. We will march you as long as you wallow in your murderous endeavors. You have not learnt anything from the Aba retaliatory riots, have you?

Let me remind you that Nigeria is a secular nation, so says its constitution. It does not have a state religion neither does it subscribe to any. It is a country which currently has a Christian as president and senate president and depending on whom you ask, it has a majority Christian population or a majority Muslim population, that is, if you are counting the cows and the dead. It is not prudent for you to expect everyone to abide by your religious calendar. Who are you to tell us when to have a Miss World pageant? Havenít we been having a Miss Nigeria pageant for years? If the Miss World pageant offends your sensibilities, SO WHAT? Get over it. Who cares? Are you the only ones who live in Nigeria? You have every right to refuse it in your Islamic states and every right to refuse your state-run papers, radios and TV stations to provide coverage. You have the right to instruct your children and veiled wives not to watch the pageant. That is your prerogative.

But to assert that others, the sixty million plus, who are not Muslims should be deprived of this event, however, frivolous it may be in your eyes because you are the moral police is ridiculous and nonsensical. Must all Nigerians cater to your wishes? When did you cater to Christians' wishes? Are you the ones to dictate to the rest of the nation what events can be watched and what cannot be watched? Who bestowed on you such right? Is this a joke? Are you telling me that those you call infidels cannot have an event without your approval? Can we profess our faith or do we need to seek your approval? Can we watch a movie or do we need to submit it to you, the moral police of Nigeria, MPN, for your stamp of approval? Are there other events we need your approval on? Is there a list of events that would 'offend your sensibilities'? Give us that list so that we may comply to your every whims and caprices. Heaven forbid that we further offend your sensibilities in a democracy. Who has ever heard of such a thing?

You may have won this battle, but ...

It is wrong to threaten the hosting of the pageant even if it falls during the month of Ramadan as long as it is not done in the Shariah states. To the best of my recollection, Calabar and Port-Harcourt were the destinations of the beauty queens, the event had no stops in any of your Shariah states. So why should you assume the role of moral police and legislate to the rest of the country what can be watched and what cannot because it offends your sensibilities? Isnít this laughable? Have the Christians told you what to do and what not to do because of the Christmas season? All well meaning Nigerians must and should reject your intolerance, it has no place in the concept of civility. You say Ramadan is a holy month, but you freely kill and destroy churches in a holy month. Does that make sense? Oh, itís the Jihad, isnít it?

You must know that Nigeria is not a Muslim country. Hear it again, Nigeria is NOT a Muslim country. Any questions? Whether you like it or not, there are others in Nigeria and you cannot impose your religious whims on the rest of the country. If you do not know this then be ready to continue the bloodbath and destruction which often leaves your north, not the south, but your north in physical ruins, setting it further back. Do you ever think of that? You talk about morality like you invented the word. If you are so moral, why havenít you cut the limbs of your thieving leaders? Why havenít you killed them for stealing billions and bringing shame to your religion? Are you only interested in stoning poor and defenseless women? What macho men you are? You should pat yourselves on the back, you have conquered your women. What a feat for all men to emulate.

You seem to have taken much liberty with the ineffectiveness of the Obasanjo administration. How can anyone blame you? In flagrant violation of the constitution you instituted Shariah law in its penal form in twelve states. In a functional society, make note of it, I said, functional society, [Nigeria is not] such a declaration by Sani and his fellow zealots in Zamfara on October 27, 1999 would have been met with resistance from the federal government and Sani tried for treason and punished according to the laws of the land. Such stance by the Shariah states amounts to declaration of independence from the federation. Which country registered under the United Nations operates two laws for its citizens? Is there a country where an adulterer would be stoned to death in one state and would be untouched in another? Such is the lot of Nigeria because you decided to practice your faith in-toto just when you lost power and a Christian president assumed office.

Major Gideon Orkar was right to have asked you to leave the country until you can sort yourselves out. If I were that brave soldier, I would have asked you to forget about sorting yourselves out Ė just leave and donít return. I wish he had succeeded because you bring nothing but shame and disgrace with your barbaric actions. You want to stone women in the year 2002. Others are talking about new scientific discoveries. You are not interested. You want to stone women. Others are talking about how to advance humanity. You are not interested. You want to cut peopleís arms. Others are talking about economic progress. You are not interested. You want to burn churches and kill Christians. That is your calling. What is wrong with you? Why must you resolve every conflict with force? Is it lack of education? Are you frustrated? Do you lack confidence? Why do you see the need to kill and kill and kill? Do something different for a change. There is a foreign concept out there called dialogue. Try it, it may work.

Some of you need to take anger management classes.

You are holier than the Iranians, the Kuwaitis, the Iraqis, etc. You are holier than the Arabs, those from the land where your religion began. Show me one thing you have contributed to the nation of Nigeria? How have you helped? What have you done? Were it not for southerners, where will you be now? In the Sahara roasting? You are uneducated, you have no knowledge and you have no skills except in killing. Arenít you tired? Donít you ask yourselves why you rush to kill all the time? Donít you have conscience? On a second thought, why should you? You have nothing to live for anyway. No hopes, no aspirations. If you do, you will not rush to kill and destruct churches.

If you have learnt nothing, learn this: our ways are not your ways, our values are not yours, so why donít you leave us alone and declare your Islamic Republic? Do you need help doing this? It would be my pleasure. You will not have your way in Nigeria. You donít own the country, you must know that you are NOT Ďborn to ruleí. Are you ruling now? You are entitled to your faith, values and beliefs, but so are others. If you donít like it, just go away. Leave us alone. Why would you want to share a country with infidels? Why would you want to share a country with those who cherish the parade of nudity? Go and have your morality in your own Islamic Republic.

You will not be missed. Who misses a parasite?