The oppressive denial of Muslims’ rights (such as the use of hijab in schools and workplaces), the vociferous verbal condemnation (by the Nigerian Christians body, CAN and other Christian organisations) of anything that has a smell of Islam, such as Sukuk; the physical and verbal assaults of hijab-wearing Muslim women, the tactical marginalisation of Muslims in government and politics (and the attendant nepotism and favouritism towards other religions), the gang-up that has led to misreporting, under-reporting and total blackout of news and events that have to do with Muslims by the Christian-dominated media, and many more.
These, to say the least, capture the tribulations Muslims in Nigeria face daily as ample evidence to describe the “bonafide” presence of Islamophobia in Nigeria.
According to the United Nations (UN), “Islamophobia is the fear, prejudice and hatred of Muslims that leads to provocation, hostility and intolerance using threat, harassment, abuse, incitement and intimidation of Muslims and non-Muslims, both in the online and offline world.”
Besides, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, (OIC) explains it further as a combination of hate, fear, and prejudice against Islam, Muslims, as well as anything associated with the religion, such as Mosques, Islamic Centers, Holy Qur’an, Hijab, etc.
“It also constitutes hatred, stigmatisation, racism and discrimination in daily life, in media, at the workplace, in the political sphere, etc. It rests in the mind and it reflects in attitude, and could be manifested through violent actions, such as burning mosques, vandalizing properties, abusing women wearing a scarf, or insulting the Prophet (PBUH) or sacred symbols of Islam.”
If not for the aid of Allah through the activities of some Islamic organisations and individuals in Nigeria, little wonder what would have been the state of Islam and Muslims, despite our huge population (about 60%) in Nigeria.
In celebration of the first-ever INTERNATIONAL DAY TO COMBAT ISLAMOPHOBIA (marked on Wednesday, March 15 as recently adopted by the United Nations General Assembly), I have compiled a list of three leading Islamic organisations fighting Islamophobia in Nigeria.
For clarity, truly, there are hundreds of Islamic organisations spreading the pristine message of Islam or generally promoting Islam one way or the other in Nigeria, however, promoting Islam is quite different from consistently speaking in its defense or actively combating Islamophobia. That is why some Islamic organisations (that you might expect) may not be in the top three (3) list as compiled by Yussuf Ayo, for Muslim News, Nigeria’s most authoritative Islamic Newspaper.
The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is an Islamic human rights organisation that reacts most vociferously and frequently to issues of interest to Muslims in Nigeria, so much so that the founder, Ishaq Lakin Akintola, a Professor of Islamic Eschatology at the Lagos State University, is now being targeted for assassination.
The organisation came into being against the alarming and discriminating acts against Islam and Muslims in all facets of life in Nigeria. The fallout of this religious apartheid was the cynicism towards Islam, the suppression of the rights of Muslims and perhaps the most painful of which is the conversion of Muslim children into other religions and the attendant reduction in the population of the Muslim Ummah in Nigeria. Hence, MURIC became a child of necessity.
MURIC, founded in October 1993, adopts the philosophy of dialogue as an efficient tool with which to solve these problems and today it has released thousands of publications.
Consistently and unsparingly, the organisation frowns at anti-Islamic policies, laws, practices and initiatives in Nigeria. Its founder, Prof. Akintola is a staunch defender of the Muslim underdogs and the voice of thousands of voiceless Muslims.
Professor Akintola never gives Islamophobes a breathing space whenever they serve the public with untruths, needless odium and misplaced criticisms of Islam and Muslims. He comes out almost immediately to put the records straight.
With members in different parts of the country, Prof. Akintola has written thousands of well-researched press releases, addressing plethora of challenges facing Nigerian Muslims, many of which have been published by the Nigerian media.
Some of the recent releases include Sukuk, Amotekun, marginalisation of Muslims in some southwest states, and of course, his involvement in the age-long hijab struggle, which was later ruled in favour of the Muslims at Nigeria’s apex court, among others. In 2022, this medium nominated Prof. Akintola and 11 other Nigerian activists ‘The Nigerian Muslim Personalities of the Year 2021″.
Muslim Public Affairs Centre (MPAC), Nigeria, is a leading public service and leadership development organisation that seeks to work for Muslim defense, empowerment and promotion of individual liberties and religious, civil and political rights of Nigerian Muslims. MPAC does this via several fundraising and empowerment, public enlightenment and education programmes.
MPAC was founded in 2001 as an independent and strong voice within the national and international Muslim communities. It has become a clearing house of Muslim public affairs that gives power to the community by allowing resourceful Muslims to work together to achieve results for the community.
In shaa Allah, MPAC has become the shining example of what Muslims can achieve if they pull resources together and put their minds to it
Like MURIC, MPAC is always at the forefront of fighting against Islamophobia both within and outside Nigeria. It has single-handedly championed different causes and at different times, partnered with many national and international Muslim organisations to cushion the effect of Islamophobia in Nigeria and register impacts beyond Nigeria.
MARCH 15- INTERNATIONAL DAY TO COMBAT ISLAMOPHOBIA
"All of us carry a responsibility to challenge Islamophobia or any similar phenomenon, to call out injustice and condemn discrimination based on religion or belief – or the lack of them." -Csaba Korosi (President, UN General pic.twitter.com/qPkKIiv45P
— MPAC Nigeria (@mpacng) March 15, 2023
MPAC contributed to the thought leadership of the Nigerian Muslim community in different areas of Muslim public affairs; set up and coordinated the Muslim Coalition Against COVID-19. A coalition of about 100 Islamic organizations nationwide. It single-handedly launched a publicity campaign against Israeli aggression in Palestine in different cities in Nigeria, and of course, partnered with different organisations to stage the World Hijab Day event in Nigeria, among others.
One of the most dangerous tools with which Islam is being fought in Nigeria is the media. The achievements of and good news about Muslims are being or at best distorted while atrocities committed by a few individuals/groups such as Boko Haram are being blown out of proportion in a sinister attempt to paint Islam black.
Yet, the killing of Muslims by IPOB in the South-South/South-East or attacks on innocent Muslim students in hijab in the Southwest by overzealous Christians receive fewer mentions in the media compared to when victims of such heinous crimes are members of other faiths.
Muslim News Nigeria had to rise to the occasion, in 2018, to end the lamentations of the Nigerian Muslim community, who have always accused the media of bias.
Muslim News Nigeria marks #IslamophobiaDay
– Calls on govt to end discrimination and violence against #Muslims
— Muslim News Nigeria (@muslimnews_NG) March 15, 2023
Founded by Rasheed Abubakar, an author, writer and columnist with The Daily Independent in Lagos, Nigeria, it was established due to the biased media reportage of Barrister Firdaus Amasa’s hijab saga with the Body of Benchers of the Nigerian law school, and several other cases of under-reporting of news about Islam and Muslims in the Nigerian mainstream media.
The medium has constantly monitored and exposed Islamophobic reports in many Nigerian newspapers, some of which have been effected by some of the hostile media in the past.
It has also served as a mouthpiece for the aforementioned and other Muslim organisations in their quest to find justice for Nigerian Muslims.
There are deliberate efforts across the globe, especially by the media to misrepresent #Islam & portray it as an ideology that promotes violence and extremism. This is informed by #Islamophobia, the fear nursed by some towards a religion that upholds justice, equity, and fairness pic.twitter.com/UYeAav5bOz
— Muslim News Nigeria (@muslimnews_NG) March 15, 2023
The medium, an organ of Rawsheild PR Company has held different enlightenment programmes to educate and sensitise the general public on the prevailing prejudice and media stereotypes against Islam.
In 2020, Muslim News gathered both international and Nigerian media practitioners including Al Jazeera and Turkiye scholars to discuss “Survival of Islamic Media Institutions: Reflections from Nigeria” during its second-anniversary lecture.
In 2021, the Nigerian Minister of Communications, Prof. Ali Isa Pantami, and Islam Channel, UK, Founder Mohamed Harrath were among the keynote speakers at the 3rd-anniversary lecture of the medium, where they proffered solutions to curbing Islamophobia, media framing and fake news.
We join the 2 billion Muslim population to mark, for the first time, the Int'l Day Against #Islamophobia. We commend @ImranKhanPTI, @OIC_OCI and @UN, as we believe that a day like this will help curtail increasing cases of Islamophobic attacks across the world, including Nigeria. pic.twitter.com/8PeRD0PiZM
— Muslim News Nigeria (@muslimnews_NG) March 14, 2023
Muslim News does not aim to blackmail or defame non-Muslims or their religion in retaliation for what the contemporary news outlets are doing to Muslims and Islam, rather, it was established with a mission to give special media attention and coverage to important people and events in the life of Muslims that do not gain mainstream media attention, and to change the media narrative of blaming Islam and Muslims for offenses committed in its lofty name. This, the team has been doing fantabulously well for more than four years.
It is on record that the medium joined the UN, OIC and the world to mark this year’s International Day against Islamophobia, calling on government at all levels, including Nigeria, to end discrimination and violence against Muslims, particularly women, in Nigeria, India and other Islamophobic nations.
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