Press Release: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MPAC Calls on Religious and Political Leaders to Act to Save Lives
“…if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our apostles with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land” (Qur’an 5:32).
The Muslim Public Affairs Centre, MPAC, condemn in the most unequivocal terms the latest round of sectarian violence in Bauchi State, which claimed more than 5 lives at the weekend and violated the sanctity of many houses of worship.
This incessant cycle of violence between Muslims and Christians in the Northern part of the country is a clear deviation from the tenets of Islam and Christianity, which uphold the sanctity of life and forbid such crimes against humanity. The extremist perpetrators of these merciless crimes must be swiftly brought to book and they must not be allowed to justify their irrational actions by unjustly utilizing religion as a weapon in their political belligerence.
Whatever the substantive issues are, what this incident has shown, once again, is that there is a new type of extremism already formed amongst certain people who profess belief in God that make them to kill fellow human beings against the specific teachings of their faiths. A form of extremism that has become so intolerant to the views, feelings and sensibility of others, that they are willing to kill, maim and violate the sanctity of places of worship wantonly. MPAC considers the incessant sectarian hostility in this part of the country, although not without its own history, to represent the latest manifestation of a steady decline in tolerance that has been subject of political machinations. The brutal and cold-blooded murder of more than five citizens is horrific, condemnable and sinful by all accounts.
It is now time for more Christians and Muslims in the troubled region to become open advocates for peace and non-violence; each group using the surplus resources within all of their traditions for the promotion of understanding and peace between the people. The vast majority who believe in peaceful coexistence and religious tolerance must be protected against the minority vile thugs that continue to unleash terror at will. MPAC once again calls on Muslim and Christian leaders to act with courage and integrity and engage in careful dialogue with political leaders in the areas, so that inter-religious violence, which has become common and increasing threat to all citizens, may be confronted and defeated. It is time for the government to act and save human lives!
We also call on the government of Bauchi State and indeed all of the northern states (including other States in Nigeria with similar issues) to make the preaching of religious tolerance one of its cardinal objectives of governance. The bloodletting, and economic waste occasioned by these riots, are avoidable and are causing instability and a threat to the ethno-socio-politico and religious coexistence of people in the whole country. Religious violence is a scourge that has destroyed and caused avoidable pains to countless families – men, women and children, and the time to stop it is NOW.
MPAC reminds all citizens of their obligations under the law during this crisis to show utmost restraint to avoid further escalation and bloodshed. We also urge everyone to stay determined to work together across barriers of faith in order to stand firmly against people who are trying to ignite sectarian sedition.