By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
The United States recently accused Nigeria of violating religious rights. Consequently, it placed the country on religious freedom blacklist. The Christian Association of Nigeria has backed the US claim of religious persecution. Although the Federal Government (FG) has denied the allegation, the Nigerian Islamic human rights body, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), has waded into the controversy.
In a statement issued on Monday, 14th December, 2020 by its director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, MURIC described President Trump as a man who is too eager to swallow any lie against any Muslim leader because of his gymnastic pursuit of a Christian crusade. The group argued that contrary to the claim that Christians are being persecuted in the country, it is actually the Muslims who are at the receiving end of religious discrimination.
The statement reads:
“We are nonplussed by the recent allegation of violation of religious rights made by the United States against Nigeria. This is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. By the way, what is the US record of respecting the religious rights of Muslims around the world?
“All pieces of evidence point at the US heading a Westo-Christian crusade against Muslim leaders and Muslim countries around the globe. Where is the weapon of mass destruction (WMD) for which the US and its allies invaded Iraq? Why is the US still occupying Afghanistan? What has been the outcome of US propaganda against Libyan leader Muammar Ghaddafi? Why is Syria at war?
“Why has the US imposed long-standing sanctions against Iran when Israel already has nuclear facilities which Iran is equally and rightly pursuing? Is that not double standard? The US has no moral right to preach righteousness to anybody. It is bare-faced interference and outright arrogance.
“Why are Muslim nations always on the list of US sanctions? Is it not for the purpose of retarding their progress while Western countries continue to rise? The US labelled hundreds of Islamic charity organisations as terrorist groups, froze their assets and forbade Islamic countries from remitting funds abroad to support Islamic organisations. But the same US allows the funding of Christian groups in Africa (particulalrly in Nigeria) with millions of dollars from within its borders. Is that fair?
MURIC also accused CAN of deliberately lying about the situation in the country.
“As for CAN’s lie that 95% of heads of security agencies in Nigeria are Muslims, we are not surprised because deceit is not only in the character of CAN, it is in its DNA. CAN deliberately ignored the federal cabinet where Christians have 20 while Muslims are only 18 and this is a government under a Muslim president. CAN is mischievious. CAN is insatiable. CAN will continue to deceive the world that Christians are marginalised until all positions are filled with Christians only and until Muslims are forced to eat from crusts under the table. Our neighbour’s middle name has long been known as ‘deception’.
“That was why a pastor in Osun State instructed his followers to disguise as Boko Haram and to invade his own church. The body of a Muslim army general was dumped inside a deep well in Plateau State but Christian women demonstrated half naked to prevent soldiers from conducting searches. Plateau State government later apologised on behalf of its Christian population. Three Christians from Southern Kaduna disguised as Fulani herdsmen to cause mayhem for which they intend to later hang on the necks of Muslims. Why must any religious leader lead his men with lies?
“We challenge CAN to give us one instance when Muslims made a single false claim. We do not disguise as Christians to commit atrocities. Our claims are always verifiable. We always come clean. This is why scientists, intellectuals, great thinkers, renowned musicians and other men of timber, calibre and caterpillar often convert to Islam after comparing notes.
“CAN’s claim of religious discrimination is false, baseless and unfounded. With General Gabriel Olonisakin as Chief of Defence Staff, Vice Admiral Ibot-ete Ekwe Ibas as Chief of Naval Staff, AVM Monday Riku Morgan as Chief of Defence Intelligence, how can CAN talk of 95% of service chiefs being Muslims?
“In retrospect and for the purpose of comparison, all army chiefs of staff under Obasanjo, a Christian leader, were Christians but CAN was silent at that time (Lt. Gen. Victor Malu, Lt. Gen. Alexander Ogomudia, Lt. Gen. Martin Luther Agwai, Lt. Gen. Andrew Azazi and Lt. Gen. Luka). Four out of the five Chiefs of Defence Staff under Obasanjo were Christians, i.e 80% were Christians while only 20% was Muslim. Also, all his three chiefs of naval staff were Christians (Ombu, Afolayan and Adekeye). So were all the three chiefs of air staff (Isaac, Jonah and Paul or are these Muslim names?). Yet the Muslims did not shout marginalization at that time.
“Contrary to the claim that Christians are being persecuted in Nigeria, it is Muslims who are at the receiving end. The whole world heard when a female Muslim law graduate, Firdaus Amasa, was disallowed from being called to bar simply because she wore an hijab which is her Muslim identity. She was made to forfeit a whole year for being a Muslim. Millions of Muslim students suffer from religious persecution in the hands of Nigerian Christian teachers. Muslim graduates are denied employment on account of their faith.
“To cap the edifice, CAN ensures that its agents in the government ministries and agencies deprive Muslims of enjoying public facilities and civic rights like national identity cards and international passports once they insist on maintaining their Islamic identity. In many states of Southern Nigeria, female Muslims are disallowed from studying courses like medicine and nursing because of their Islamic appearance. Muslim males are compelled to shave their beards and remove their caps and turbans in many public institutions. Muslims are stereotyped, marginalized, persecuted and oppressed in the whole of Southern Nigeria. We are told to go to Sokoto or Maiduguri if we want to enjoy Allah-given fundamental human rights. Paradoxically and characteristically, it is CAN, our relentless oppressor, who is now shedding crocodile tears.
“We expect the US to know better but it continues to wilfully and knowingly pin fictitious crimes on Muslim leaders. It is our contention that President Trump is picking on President Muhammadu Buhari because the latter is a Muslim. It is religious stigmatisation. It is scapegoatism. We assert that Nigeria is a sovereign country and not the 51st state of America. We therefore demand respect for the territorial integrity of our land. The US should desist from interfering in Nigeria’s internal affairs.
“President Donald Trump is too eager to swallow CAN’s lies, hook, line and sinker. Fortunately the world now realises who we are dealing with. It is becoming clearer day by day particularly in the wake of the US election that Trump is a man already drowned in the sea of fantasies. A bully, a fake democrat and a totalitarian dictator has taken America for a ride. The only relief today is that we know Trump does not represent America. At least true democrats have proved that they can maintain the American standard.
MURIC called on African countries to impose sanctions on Trump and his close allies for their role during the 2020 American elections.
“Trump and his boot-lickers and court-jesters should be sanctioned by African countries for their despicable role during the 2020 US elections. Trump has proved beyond any reasonable doubt that he is the grandfather of all bad loosers. We urge African countries to marshall a number of sanctions against Trump and his key supporters, including, but not limited to, denial of entry visas. Afterall, the US would have been screaming blue murder if what happened during the US election had occurred in an African country.
“The true picture of CAN will become clearer when we remember how some Nigerian Christians went on a rally for Trump’s victory during the US elections and a Nigerian politician noted for hating Muslims insisted a few days ago that Trump would be sworn in for the second term.
“In spite of America’s involvement in the modern crusade, we acknowledge the fact that the average American is a decent and humane person. He is definitely not part of the atrocities of the American system against Muslims around the globe. We salute these noble citizens. We affirm our belief in the essence of humanity. Love moves the world, not hatred. Religion should not be the criterion.
“To this end, we extend our hands of fellowship to men and women around the globe who share our values of human dignity, love and peaceful coexistence. We condemn all forms of violence, be it religious, ethnic or political. We strongly denounce terrorism in particular. We reject the tortuous tantrums of religious bigots and haters of homo sapien who incite people to violence and order the killing of people of Western origin. We hold firmly, clearly and categorically that life is sacred and no man born of a woman has the right to order killings.
“We aver that Trump is a drowning man who is desperately clutching at every single thread he can grab. He has picked on Nigeria once again just to show that he is still relevant. We advise Trump to leave Nigeria alone. He should face the reality of the crushing defeat inflicted on him by the democrats. The game is up”.
Professor Ishaq Akintola,
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)