In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Media Communique: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
19 April, 2007
MPAC Rejects Extremism
Muslim Public Affairs Centre, MPAC, deplores the killings in Kano which came as a result of an attack on Panshekara police station early in the morning of Tuesday 17 April, 2007, leaving 10 dead policemen, a Divisional Police Officer (DPO) and his wife. The incidence happened at a location about 30 kilometers away from Kano city within the neighbourhood of Nigerian Police College with the assailants shooting every policeman in sight. The Police, reinforced with soldiers in a reprisal attack, retaliated for the killings on Wednesday and killed at least 25 people alleged to be militants and arrested several others. Newspaper report of resident testimony on the group states that: “Some of them look like Sudanese, some like Chadian and some like the people of Maiduguri.” The militant group, with alleged ties to Al-Qaeda, was reported to have staged reprisal attack in protest of the brutal assassination of Sheikh Adam and two of his co-worshipers on Friday the 14th, a claim that has been fiercely denied by the scholars of Ahlissunna preachers and many others who are close to the scene. It is unlikely that the Police will become a target of reprisal attack on killings they have not been implicated in. MPAC condemns the exploitation of people and issues, regardless of the perpetrators and their justifications and considers the militant group’s attack on law enforcement agents an attack against humanity. Any individual or group that claims that these heinous actions serve as a redress for legitimate grievances is dreadfully mistaken for Allah says very clearly: “Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not do aggression, for Allah loves not the aggressors.” (Al-Baqarah: 190). The actions of the militants ignore and misrepresent not only the Qur’anic teachings but the example set by the Prophet himself (Peace be upon him, PBUH). It really saddens the hearts of the Muslim community members because when this type of incident happens it damages the image of Islam. That being the case, we wish to extend our deepest condolences to everyone affected, Muslim and non Muslim.
There is certainly an unprecedented threat to lives and property in the world at this period in our history. This grim fact ties in with an unprecedented level of tension in the country during this period of surge in wanton political violence as a result of the on-going elections, clan warfare, brazen robbery attacks, politically motivated killings, ethnic clashes and rebel uprising in the Niger Delta region. The incident of widespread destruction and killings witnessed in Kano exploited the vacuum created by the betrayal of our Government which has left us all vulnerable and defenseless in the face of danger inspite of all the warning signs.
The MPAC is also calling on Muslim leaders and scholars to launch a sustained national campaign to educate the masses regarding Islam’s position against such brutality. Perhaps there are diabolical forces that wear a religious cloak for their nefarious and selfish political motives, but we must not allow them to triumph. We refuse to allow our faith to be held hostage by the criminal actions of a tiny minority acting outside the teachings of both the Qur’an and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It is time that the Nigerian Muslim leadership positively and constructively intervenes to make sure good understanding of Islam becomes widespread so that no extremists will play upon us. There is a need for better and coordinated efforts between the Nigerian Muslim community, under a God-fearing leadership, to re-assess its collaboration and work closely with the security and law enforcement institutions to combat extremism and defeat it. Most of the time we see destruction and not construction. We see killings and not saving of human lives. Yet we are commanded in the principal sources of our religion to construct and to save lives. Our religious leaders are not acting enough by reaching out more, by building bridges; by funding institutions that preach and teach tolerance and peaceful co-existence; invest in projects that promote the correct message of Islam and its methodologies (not the warped ideologies of a misguided few), and by keeping vigilant against religious predators who peddle dubious ideologies. Inactivity won’t stop the crimes that are committed in our name. Inactivity wont change ideologies that promote violence and extremism. Inactivity won’t change our public image. Such inactivity during a crisis of this magnitude is unacceptable. It is time for concerned Muslims: intellectuals, religious scholars, community leaders, and others within our community, to heed the various ‘wake up calls’ that have arisen since September 11.
At the same time, the MPAC urges the media and senior government officials to show greater responsibility in their use of language when talking about extremist ideologies of certain people. Since media and government portrayals of Islam and Muslims have a great impact on public opinion, these institutions should contribute to cultivating an accurate and enriching understanding of Islam and Muslims by the general Nigerian public. Media houses should consider carefully the impact of using such buzzwords as ‘Muslim fanatics’, ‘Jihadists’, ‘Islamists’, ‘Islamic fundamentalists’, etc, as such offensive terms distort the true meanings and noble concepts which the words traditionally stand for but only associate Islam with terrorism or extremism in the mind of ordinary people. As well as provide a cover for the perpetrators of the unmistakably act of terrorism who will feel that their deranged actions are being legitimized by such false association.
Lastly, certain elements in the Nigerian society have falsely accused all Muslims of silence and even tacit support for extremism. But condemnation has in fact been consistently voiced by leading Nigerian Muslim bodies and organizations whenever acts which are capable of damaging our society are carried out by persons of Islamic faith, as we should. For the rest of the society to suspect and accuse us at every turn because a few extremists have committed crimes is unacceptable. The perpetrators of the ghastly crimes which occurred this past Tuesday are not from our ranks. The vast majority of Nigerian Muslims across the whole country are peace loving, law abiding citizens that are making important contributions to the development of our nation in far reaching ways and diverse areas of the economy including nation building and as such have nothing to do with them. If the media or other forces won’t emphasize that fact to the Nigerian public, we certainly must emphasize it to ourselves.