Among several other scandals that have rocked social media, the latest COZA scandal is particularly instructive, and should be learnt from.
The moment the story broke, on social media too (YNaija), netizens, concerned and otherwise, immediately went into overdrive.
Before you could say Jack Robinson, several bottles of Krest were already flying about on Facebook, some with pictures of a particular man whose name had been rechristened FaDOyinbo (Yorubas will know). The word COZA, which before now was just the acronym of a church, assumed a new “urban dictionary” meaning. Likewise, several corroborating stories of rape appeared online too, the veracity of all of which may not be ascertained. In short, in just a few days, Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo’s boisterous threats of suing Busola and Timi Dakolo over “false allegations of rape” gradually fizzled out and metamorphosed into a tepid explanation on the pulpit, a series of “advices from his spiritual fathers”, an abrupt cancellation of a scheduled international crusade and finally, an ignominious abscondment from his position as Senior Pastor.
That, dear readers, is social media for you. Harsh, unforgiving, relentless and brutal in accusation, judgement and sentencing, all rolled into one.
Nigerian Muslim netizens need to learn from this new reality, especially our Salafi brothers. Boisterous, loud, noisy and itchy on the fingers, they seem to be eager to always air their views on social media, especially when it comes to the vilification of foes, and surprisingly, friends alike.
It’s no surprise anymore that the so-called Ikhwanees will always take nasty bludgeons from them on social media, but today, some Salafis have turned their caustic fingers on their own scholars and leaders. Their Professors and Dakaatirah (PhD holders) have been stung very badly via caustic Salafi posts and messy diatribes on Facebook, while a prominent Lagos Salafi scholar has lately been waging a virtually one man battle against a senior Salafi scholar on Facebook (if you know you know), complete with threats and calls for mutual curse competitions.
However, the table turned only yesterday when Premium Times dealt a rather humbling and humiliating blow on the Southwest Nigerian Salafi community when it outed a prominent Salafi scholar over a case of alleged shoddy Nikah cum rape. Suddenly, the usually loud, boisterous and itchy fingered Salafi netizens crawled into their digital holes, silent and tight-lipped, only to come out initially to deny the story. Very quickly, denial attempts fell flat, and the subsequent defence turned to accusing other Muslim groups of “mocking an innocent Salafi scholar who fell into error”.
Well, a messed up alleged Nikah cum rape case is not exactly “falling into error”. In addition, the Ikhwanees, Professors and Dakaatirah you’ve had unmitigated fun bashing, “excommunicating from the Sunnah”, banning from the “Firqotu Najiyyah” and declaring as heretics won’t exactly be eager to come to your aid this time.
In addition, Mudir Habeeb and his boys that you’ve Takfir-d, the Sufi folks you’ve declared as Bid’ahtic and the Morsi-loving folks whose beloved late President you have vilified, even in death, won’t exactly jump to your aid now.
Have you heard? Premium Times ain’t your friend either. They are just doing their job. And the non-Muslim majority on social media? They don’t know the difference between Salafi, Sufi, Ikhwanee, or Habeebee. To them, all of Muslims are Fulani herdsmen and brothers and sisters to Jubril of Sudan.
Learn, O Salafees. This exclusionist, “we are the only sect going to Jannah” kind of Islam you are preaching will only render you isolated, friendless and vulnerable to relentless attacks on social media in situations of dire weakness, like this Premium Times alleged rape case. Mockery will be the least of your problems on social media when shit like this hits the fan, and bigger media like BBC, CNN and New York Times will only be excited to get the opportunity to feast on your rot, while you will get no help from other Muslim groups on social media because you have excommunicated them all from the fold of “your Islam”.
Think, O Salafees, think. Social media is harsh, brutal and relentless, with a long memory. Bring your friends close, your enemies even closer.
By Mansur Ismaila