By Simdi Gloria:-
An umbrella body for Islamic organisations, Islamic centres, Sufi orders, Imams, Islamic scholars and preachers in the state, Muslim Solidarity Forum Sokoto has called on the Archbishop of Sokoto, Bishop Hassan Matthew Kukah to stop his vituperations against Islam or he should leave Sokoto quietly.
The Christian Association of Nigeria in the 19 Northern states of Nigeria and Abuja within 24 hrs of the group’s remark in a statement issued in Kaduna and signed by its Vice Chairman, Reverend Joseph Hayab, said they can not threaten him to apologise and leave Sokoto.
The acting chairman of the forum, Professor Isa Muhammad Maishanu, in a press conference in Sokoto on Tuesday noted that the forum, “noticed with dismay the Christmas message of the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Rev Matthew Hassan Kukah when he chose to attack Islam and Muslims, especially those from Northern part of the country.
The Muslim forum had said, “Our intention at Muslim Solidarity Forum is not to hold brief for the President, as he has those who are paid to do that. Rather our concern is the image and reputation of Muslims, which Mr. Kukah finds pleasure in attacking without an iota of caution, and by referring to him as a Muslim that automatically brings all Muslims in the issue.
“The Bishop has the penchant to speak in parables and innuendos. His reference to a people who possess ‘a pool of violence to draw from’ no doubt is a reference to those he has always characterized with violence – the Muslims.
“This is a serious provocation. He even has the gut to say the killings we are witnessing in Nigeria are part of a grand religious design! Religious? Who are the victims of the killings?
“What religion do they profess? Is it not a fact that over 90 per cent of those being killed are Muslims? Who is behind the so-called design? The sensible and objective world knows the truth!
“We wonder how Kukah who lives peacefully and comfortably in the heart of the Sokoto Caliphate can make such a callous and senseless statement.
“Is it his hatred for Islam and the Muslims that has blinded him to this level, even though he claims to be preaching the Gospel of love?”
According to the group, “these callous statements are unbecoming of someone who parades himself a secretary to National Peace Committee and a member of Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC).
“As such, we call on Kukah to immediately stop his malicious vituperations against Islam and Muslims and tender unreserved apology to the Muslim Ummah or else quickly and quietly leave the seat of the caliphate as he is trying to break the age-long peaceful coexistence between the predominantly Muslim population and their Christian guests.
We equally call on Muslim leaders who out of magnanimity have been showing goodwill to Kukah to realise that he is taking their kindness for granted, and he does not appreciate the gesture, rather this emboldens him to fiercely attack them at any given opportunity.”
But in their reaction to the threat, CAN insists, “Apology is a Christian virtue. We are taught to apologise even when we are right and the other person is wrong.
“Apology to a Christian is like drinking water. But what has Bishop Kukah said wrong that they are asking him to apologise?
This to us is blackmail and intimidation by an ignorant group. If not, why threatening a fellow citizen to leave another city just because he expressed his view about our underdevelopment and challenges?
“If we start asking people to vacate our state or town how will that end? Every one of us has territory he or she can boast about, but that does not give you the right to ask anyone to vacate your town.
“In this country, for many decades some preachers have made many uncomplimentary remarks and say words that are provocative towards people of other faith and region, but we have tolerated them so that we can continue together and build a Nation of respect for others opinion.
“We, therefore, see this call for an apology from Bishop Kukah by this group as a show of disrespect and a display of complex attitude to abuse our tolerance spirit and our desire for a peaceful Nigeria.
“You can not win your friend or neighbour by intimidation. You should instead win him with love and also respecting his opinion.
“We see this group as agents of blackmail and intimidation who want to infringe on the right and freedom of expression of citizens which our Constitution guarantees.”
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