By NNOROM AZUONYE
On Christmas day, as Christians celebrated the birth of the prince of peace, Jesus the Christ, Muslims in Nigeria chose that day the bomb them as they worshipped. Nobody has been held accountable for this heinous crime. Nobody will ever be held accountable for it. That is Nigeria, where Islam has now become synonymous with senseless cold-blooded mass murders of Christians. The situation is so bad now that it is impossible to think about a Muslim without associating him with violence and murder. It is even more disturbing because the average Muslim walking the Nigerian street is now perceived as a murderer who will always get away with murder.
Some Christian thinkers have been hoping to tease sense and restraint out of the educated and possibly conscienced Muslim elite to speak up in condemnation of terrorist acts perpetrated in the name of their religion, to redeem the image of that religion and place the majority of possibly non-homicidal Muslims in good light.
Writing on his Facebook wall in response to Reverend Father Bassey’s assertion that "The majority of peace loving Muslims are powerless before this very powerful radical minority, and for the sake of their lives most prefer to keep quiet. But the agenda of Islamisation which is a crucial expected outcome of these radicals will be an outcome welcome by all Muslims whether radical or not." Dr Pius Adesanmi writes:
Dear Father Bassey:
Thanks are due to Oga Ojo for circulating your thoughts widely. I agree with his critique of same. I have also excerpted a curious point you make. I couldn't disagree with you more on what you state above. The majority of Nigeria's peace-loving Moslems are certainly not powerless before the bloodthirsty cannibals among them. The proper thing to say is that the rest of us, Nigerian non-Moslems, have somehow never held the Muslim majority accountable for their silence over these orgies of murder that come complete with the ability to tar-brush all of them and even their religion. I am not saying that we don't hear from a few courageous and progressive Muslims but the numbers are not up to the ten fingers of my non-leprous hands. Apologies for the hyperbole. It is for discursive effect. Just look at my constituency: how many Northern Muslim University lecturers have ever come out to denounce these killings? How many of them have ever thought of coming together in pressure groups and thinktanks - something like a League of Northern Academics Against Religious Violence - to mount pressure on Northern state governors, religious leaders and elders? How many of them have organized themselves in NGOs and sought funding from local and foreign bodies to mount public campaigns against religious violence in the core north? Don't we have colleagues everywhere from Usmanu Dan Fodio University in Sokoto to Bayero University in Kano? How many of them have you ever heard from? They don't have voices or they suddenly become too busy with academic work whenever these orgies of violence require their voices in the public space? I think the time has come when we must begin to make it clear to that Moslem majority that we do not believe that they are powerless to rein in the murderers who are giving their religion such a bad name; that, where we stand, their silence means acquiescence or indifference or both; that we are no longer satisfied with a handful of well-meaning Muslims and Muslim organizations coming out to apply medicine after death by issuing statements after every bomb blast and going back to sleep until the next blast - let them be proactive! Let them do the right thing with conscientization campaigns and other socially prophylactic initiatives in the warrens of radical Islam in the North, etc. We want to see them get their hands dirty in the trenches of the North, involved in very publicized and mediatized campaigns for religious harmony and against religious violence. That Muslim majority must be seen working proactively by the rest of us. Otherwise, the Sultan rushing to Aso Rock for a photo-op presented as a security consultation while we are burying our dead is cold comfort.
The problem of course is that the non-Muslims in Nigeria are relying on the handful of non-violent, non-homicidal Muslims to talk down their brothers and stop the murders of Christians. The other major unfortunate thing is that Christians are deluding themselves that the Nigerian government might find a way to deal with this problem. Some even feel that with a Christian finally in power, President Goodluck Jonathan (rumoured to be a Christian) might contrive to use the Nigerian Armed Forces he commands to wring peace out of the radical Muslim North. But the man has proved himself as hopeless in this regard as his mentor, Olusegun Obasanjo who was also rumoured to be a Christian.
This short article must not be misunderstood as a call to Christians to rise up and start killing Muslims, but it must be clear to all Christians by now that the enlightened, educated, non-bloodthirsty Muslim elite could do something about this situation, if only they would. It is also clear that the Nigerian government, supposedly led by a possible Christian, could also do something if it would. But there is no spirit, no desire or courage to do anything to stop these killings.
This is where Christians must be reminded that although Jesus urged them to turn the other cheek if one cheek is struck, the same Jesus also said in the book of Luke 22:36 “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.” LET THE ONE WHO HAS NO SWORD SELL HIS CLOAK AND BUY ONE.
The Prince of Peace knew it well that this day would come when a people whose religion means ‘peace’ would rise against his people, and he charged them in advance to get armed and be willing to fight back. Christians in the Nigeria are now under siege by Muslims and must realise that it is not against the Christian faith to bear arms or to defend oneself. When Jesus said ‘buy a sword’ he also meant build a bomb. If the Boko Haram or any other branch of Islam continues to bomb Christians, then it is worth the while to bomb them right back. This is not something that is likely to annoy God. At this very trying moment, all Christians in Nigeria need to be vigilant and must commit themselves to prayer and seek God’s way in this matter. Victory against these forces of evil can only be achieved if Christians align themselves with the will of God. Everything from the acquisition of swords, to how to use them in defence of the Christian way of life, and the Christian life must be covered by the blood of Jesus so that in fighting the monsters, Nigerian Christians must not become monsters. TB
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- Nnorom Azuonye.
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