Press Release: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MPAC STRONGLY CONDEMNS KILLINGS IN BORNO STATE
The Muslim Public Affairs Centre, MPAC, strongly condemns any and all destruction of properties and killings during the riot in Borno state at the protest against the publication of the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad in some foreign newspapers. MPAC condemns this act of wanton violence as a complete violation of the teachings of Islam. The violence has been a clear aberration, reflecting the actions of deranged minorities, social miscreants and religious illiterates. The Qur’an, Islam’s revealed text, states: ‘Goodness and evil cannot be equal. Repel (evil) with something that is better. Then you will see that he with whom you had enmity will become your close friend. And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint.’ (41:34-35).
More than 50 people were brutally murdered in Borno state when the law enforcement was called in to repress one of the largest and most peaceful protests in the history of the state. Muslims have the right to feel and express their offense in a peaceful manner at the unprovoked and brutal attacks on the magnificent characters of our Prophet and the attempted demonisation of his message. There can be little doubt therefore that the volatile situation that engulfed the state and its people was brought about as a result of the decision to disperse and inflame protesters by armed law enforcement agents. The decision to repress the protest and the resulting violent reaction of the hoodlums were deliberate attempts at hijacking legitimate Muslim anger at the vicious attacks of the newspapers that published the islamophobic cartoons of the Prophet of Islam, peace be upon him.
It is a disgrace that the hoodlums were allowed such an ample time to cause so much pain. Coverting every occasion of tension and crisis to opportunity to target defenseless civilians, destroy places of worship and attack minorities living amongst us, be they Muslims or non-Muslims, is a pervasive problem that urgently calls for collective actions from political and faith leaders who are serious about building bridges and solving these problems. The failure of the political leadership to address this problem is a testimony to their disconnection to the people they purportedly lead. The problem, in most cases, is created by the social exclusion of the youth, hate preachers on the fringe of both religions and long years of dealing in mutual mistrusts. Also, leaving free young Muslims who wants to do something and who have not been taught the Islamically sanctioned ways of objecting to insults and provocation, is a dangerous recipe for the type of actions that occurred in the state where the riot took place . It was wrong that the Media in their reports did not make the clear distinction that the people responsible for the killing and destruction of properties were nothing but largely xenophobic and evil thugs less representative of Muslims than the small and evil fringe of Christians who are renowned for peddling evil and stoking the fire of hatred. It is wrong that we Muslims have not dealt with these thugs once and for all. Justice is for all, and injustice must not be allowed to go unchallenged.
It must be remembered that the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, was quick to condemn the islamophobic cartoons in its courageous and principled position expressed recently. It is actions such as this, that will reassured us of the possibility of a better future in which Muslims and Christians can work together in order to bring peace and justice to the country and by extension to the world, diffusing the current environment of hate, anxiety and suspicion. It is our sincere wish that the enlightened and brave words of CAN in this matter will constitute lampposts that provide guidance and inspiration for members of the two faith communities. It is in the light of this that MPAC calls upon the religious leaders in Nigeria to begin a campaign of religious education of their people. We call on Nigeria ‘s Muslim leaders to embark on orientation programmes that emphasize the principles of equality, respect of life, justice and accountability as expressed in the Qur’an.
The general devaluation of human lives in Nigeria which caused the trigger-happy law enforcement to shoot tear gas into a crowd of peaceful protesters. Which makes the police sees itself duty-bound to repress every public protest with high-handedness, however meaningful and peaceful, the immoral and irresponsible executive orders issued to prevent people from exercising their constitutional right to peacefully object in a legitimate cause along with the culturally developed notion of growing xenophobia and mistrusts, create an environment where heinous acts are possible; freely preached and perpetrated. Both the Nigerian state and the faith communities must examine their roles in all these crimes that are needlessly causing the loss of human lives. According to Islamic law, or Shari’a, Muslims are obligated to respect and in fact protect human lives against oppression and termination, except under stringent conditions that are clearly expressed in the Qur’an and the traditions of the Prophet, peace be upon him. All people, Muslims and non-Muslims, are guaranteed basic rights in Islam including the right of safety and security of live and properties as long as they are not overtly or covertly engaged in any type of acts that threaten public good and safety, or oppressive against fellow human beings and the faith.
Furthermore, individual members of society are not allowed in Islam to take the law into their own hands and render punishments, regardless of whether a crime has been committed or not. Therefore, the cold-blooded murder of innocent people that have occurred in Borno state must be viewed only as a horrible homicide for which the perpetrators should be punished under the full extent of the law. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of violence, their families and everyone that are suffering as a result of the atrocities perpetrated.