One of Nigeria’s leading human rights organisations, Center for Global Peace Initiative (CGPI) has described as “a farce”, the US listing of Nigeria on the watchlist of countries with cases of religious intolerance.
The US State Department had on Friday, listed Nigerian alongside Comoros, Russia, Uzbekistan, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Sudan, as countries that had engaged in or tolerated the severe violation of religious freedom.
Although the Presidency has not reacted to the list, the human rights group, CGPI noted that the criteria upon which Nigeria was listed which include ‘killing of Christians’ and the ‘maltreatment of the Shiite followers’ are not only egregious to national interest but also misleading.
This was contained in a press release signed the Executive Director of the Center, Mr Shakiru Yekini, a copy of which was received by Muslim News, on Sunday, barely 48 hours after US Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo dropped the bombshell.
Mr Yekini castigated the Trump-led administration for the increased cases of islamophobic attacks against Muslims since he emerged the US President in 2016.
The group faulted the exclusion of Zionist state of Israel and India in the list, adding that the two countries have incriminating and high ranking cases of violation of Muslim minority rights in Palestine and Kashmir, including New Delhi’s Citizenship Law which expressly admitted its intents to Target Muslims and deny them citizenship.
Read the full statement below
US LISTING OF NIGERIA ON THE RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE WATCH: A FARCE
The US was reported recently to have listed Nigeria on the watch list of countries with religious intolerance through the invocation of a 1998 ‘International Religious Freedom Act’ which aimed as claimed, to create an international alliance of countries for religious freedom.
Nigeria’s listing was premised upon two allegations: ‘killing of Christians’ and the treatment of Shiite followers in recent unrests.
Nigeria was thus listed alongside countries like Myanmar which is currently standing trial at The Hague for its genocide of the Rohingya; and China whose atrocities against the Uyghur have drawn strong international condemnation to name a few.
The two criteria used by the US are not only egregious to national interest but misleading. First, the antics by political jobbers and hatchet men to paint a situation of Christians being persecuted were a ruse tried in the past.
We remember that a certain socio-cultural organization in Nigeria did write the European Union sometimes ago in attempts to fly this kite. However, the fact that the European Union, through several of its agencies have been on ground and are abreast of the situation in the country including their complexities, to know too well the falsity of that claim and thus the outright rejection of those claims by the EU.
The attempt to force the false narrative of persecution of Christians in Nigeria was pushed as a byproduct of the intense political competition in the last general elections.
Despite the fact that the Boko Haram insurgents did target Christians, however, the greatest sufferers of the sect’s attacks have been Muslims. This perhaps informed the EU’s treatment of this wolf cry to the body by the socio-cultural organization as misleading and inaccurate, as it is known that Boko Haram differentiates not between a Muslim and a Christian in unleashing its violence.
But apart from this, the activities of the Berom Christian militia in Jos and Bauchi who for long have been waylaying ‘Muslims’, killing them and dumping their bodies in ponds was glossed over by both the pushers of the false narrative of Christian persecution and their collaborators in the media who provide media shield to their atrocities via the manipulation of reportage which blots out those atrocities.
We all knew how the discovery of the slain and mutilated body of Major-General Alkali by the Berom Christian militia led to the discovery of several other ponds in Jos with bodies of waylaid Muslims killed and dumped into the ponds by the Berom Christian militia.
Interestingly enough that news struggled to see the light of the day and even some Christian-affiliated media outfits not only attempted a denial of the atrocities, but also an extenuation of the crime in some of their opinions.
The use of the Shiite/Police clash as a measure of religious intolerance was both misleading and egregious to the social health of the country.
In the unfolding scenario between the Shiite whose lawlessness provoked an uncivil high handed treatment by security agencies, attempts were equally made to create the narrative of a ‘Sunni’ majority persecuting a Shiite minority! The insensitivity of this attempt at dressing a civil unrest in religious garb for political purposes was the height of irresponsibility by those pushing the plot.
Nigeria has neither a history of a Sunni/Shiite crisis nor was this the first time that El-Zakyzaky’s Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) would be testing the will of the state to assert its power and monopoly of coercion, thus putting itself in harm’s way. The fact that previous governments have had to curtail forcefully the rascality of the Shiite movement makes the argument of persecution puerile.
Again it would be good to apply the same test of ‘religious tolerance’ on America as a government. The memory of a president who was elected on his promise to institutionalize religious persecution by issuing an order banning peoples of certain countries due to their religious beliefs remains fresh in the memory.
Since the ascension of Trump to the American presidency, Islamophobia as a phenomenon has risen with Muslims banned from entering America and those living inside it made to go through harrowing persecution. Many hapless Muslims have fallen victim of Trump’s hordes of racial militia. Murders of Muslims, their unlawful detention and their subjugation to harrowing experiences within America have been well documented: should not the US look in the mirror to see its own image?
Or does the American support for the Zionist state of Israel which defined itself in racial and religious terms as Jewish and Judaic and which has continue to build itself on the ruins of people of another race and religion –the Palestinians – not fall into the category of religious intolerance and persecution?
Is it not also a surprise that the new India Citizenship Law which expressly admitted its intents to target Muslims, deny them citizenship and render them stateless escaped America’s ‘vigilance’ on religious intolerance and persecution?
Perhaps India’s 1.2 billion population remains an economic bait too strong to resist as for America to tolerate its daylight persecution of its religious minority, more so as Uncle Sam is having troubles with China and its large market.
The world should even ask what is the value and importance of these ‘listings’ whose self-appointed ‘supervisor’ carries out far weightier scale of intolerance and persecution for imperialistic reasons?
While we urge America to purge itself of its own hatred and pull the log of wood on its eyes before attempting to remove a piece of stick from someone else’s, we advise those too happy to celebrate this charade called listing to take a embark on a sober reflection with regard to the aim of their pursuit. After all, a man without an asset cannot give it. Charity they say, begins from home.