An Islamic human rights organization, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has appealed to clerics to desist from delivering hate sermons. The group spoke on the heels of rising incidents of blasphemy around the country.
MURIC’s admonition was delivered by the group’s director, Professor Ishaq Akintola.
He said, “It has come to our notice that the root of blasphemy and its proliferation in this country is the licencious indulgence in and permission of hate sermon by Christian clerics and leaders respectively. Our weak institutions also condone both hate sermon and blasphemy. These are disasters waiting to happen unless we take urgent steps to plug the leaking holes.
“This is why the advice given by the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to Nigerian Christians regarding the need for Christians to respect the religion of others came at the right time. The president of CAN, Dr. Samson Ayokunle on Monday, 16th May, 2022 pointedly told it’s members to respect other people’s religion.
“It will be recalled that the Sultan of Sokoto and President General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), Alhaji Muhammad Sa’d Abubakar, had earlier condemned the killing of Deborah Yakubu by a mob in Sokoto. He also cautioned against such action in future. MURIC is pleased with both leaders for issuing such positive statements.
“But we need to go further than that because Christians who make inflammatory statements and utter blasphemous speeches are merely parroting hate sermons heard in the churches. This is no news because video clips of famous pastors preaching hate and pouring out venomous and toxic sermons on the pulpit have gone viral on many occasions.
“It is these hate sermons which instigate the ordinary Christian to make derogatory remarks about Islam and it’s prophets. Hate sermon is the root of blasphemy. It is good that the President of CAN has told Christians to respect other people’s religion but that is not enough.
“Pastors are next in line and CAN leadership is advised to zero in on them. They are the ones who use their sermons to incite their followers against Muslims and their religion. It is our contention that there will be no blasphemy if there is no hate sermon. We therefore invite Christian leaders to caution pastors who are in the habit of preaching hate and deriding Islam.
“We must recognize the fact that there is suicide speech just as there is hate speech. Anybody can love Adolf Hitler. But when someone goes to Israel, climbs a table in the midst of a Jewish crowd and shouts ‘I love Hitler!’ It is doubtful if his family will have anything at all to bury from the bulk of his anatomy.
The Islamic human rights advocacy group also cautioned Muslims and the general public against jungle justice. Akintola said, “Although it is true that Muslims only react when they are provoked by blasphemers, such reaction must not be violent. Violence is a square peg. Justice is a round hole. They don’t match. What you gain is not what you lost. But it raises one above the herd to control his emotion and allow common sense to prevail.
“MURIC believes that mob action and blasphemies have been encouraged by the lackadaisical attitude of the security agencies as well as the slow judicial process in the country. Those who engage in mob action have just one dogma, namely, that the police will allow culprits to get away with the crime for an exchange of favours. They therefore take to self-help in the belief that taking culprits to the security agencies will not ensure that justice is done.
“Muslims have complained that no single blasphemer has ever been made to face the full wrath of the law. Of course they are right. For instance, Isioma Daniel in 2001 claimed that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would take one of the Miss World contestants as a wife. The authorities gave her safe passage to Europe and she was never seen again in Nigeria. But not before about 250 souls were lost in the nationwide riot sparked off by her blasphemy.
“Foreign governments also care less about the feeling of Muslims. The Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine fiasco of 2015 is a case in point. Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses of the 80s is another. Lars Vilks, a cartoonist in Sweden, who drew a caricature of the Prophet in 2007 lost his freedom of movement to his misuse of the so-called freedom of speech. In essence, those who misuse their freedom of speech are bound to lose their freedom of movement. The least scenario being hiding in the day and going out only at night.
“It is this lack of trust in the criminal justice system both locally and internationally that has been responsible for the phenomenon of jungle justice. It goes beyond cases of blasphemy. Armed robbers, kidnappers and pick pockets are quickly dispensed with through lynching and burning, particularly in our own country, Nigeria.
“Worse still, many innocent old women have been lynched and burnt alive in some parts of the country. Henceforth, the police should take action against both blasphemers and those who partake in jungle justice, at least for deterrence.
“In this regard, we call on both the Borno State Government and the State Police Command to ensure that the case of Naomi Goni is properly investigated. Naomi must face the full wrath of the law if her case is judiciable. But she should not be made to suffer any injury if she is not the author of the blasphemous post.
“MURIC calls for urgent enlightenment of the general public in this regard. A mob cannot effectively identify a culprit. What happens in most cases is that innocent people are killed for no just cause.
“The slow pace of court cases is also a major raison d’etre for the rise in mob killing syndrome. We therefore call for a complete and total overhaul of Nigeria’s judicial system. People will stop taking the law into their hands once they are sure of speedy and unimpaired adjudication.”