THURSDAY Column with Mohammed Adamu
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That even the court’s dismissal of the suit challenging Yerima’s marriage did not abate the campaign against it, confirmed that the whole thing was never about the sanctity of the ‘rule of law’. Nor has it ever been about the much touted concern for the moral or physiological well being of the ‘underage’ Muslim girl-child, or else the same self-appointed moral policemen would equally have been outraged by similar, if not worse, child-abuse scenarios involving their own. In fact most Muslims believe that non Muslims’ opposition to many Islamic religious practices has always been about seizing opportune moments to demonize Muslims and to de-campaign Islam. I said to a non Muslim friend of mine: ‘if you insist that Yerima’s marriage to a 13 year old, was in violation of the ‘Child Rights Act’ (which pegs the minimum age of marriage at 18), why then was there also a lurid rage of the Christian saints when the Emir of Kano, Sanusi married an 18 year old? And he said that Sanusi’s marriage was not so much about legality, as it was about morality –that at 53 he was marrying an 18-year old. Call it ‘shifting the goal post’? I call it ‘pulling the whole damn post off’! But then I said to my friend: ‘since Muslims and Christians both live in a multi-religious society, and under a Constitution that guarantees secular and religious rights, isn’t it counterproductive to ‘interfaith relations’, that members of one religion continue to demand apologies from those of the other for the religious practices that they consider obnoxious to their own sense of spiritual or moral decency? Shouldn’t Muslims and Christians stick to the limits and delight, unapologetically, in the latitudes allowed for them by their respective faiths without one group arrogating to itself the right to inquisition the other? Else to what effect are the constitutional guarantees of freedom of worship and religious tolerance? For as the British politician, Fredrick the Great would say: “All religions must be tolerated; for every man must get to heaven his own way”.
But my Christian friend insisted that it should be the duty of all –Muslims or Christians- to rise in defense of the law and of public morality, no matter, he said, whose ox is gored. And so I said: ‘will it be right then, because the law prohibits child abuse and molestation, or because Islam disapproves of the Catholic practice of monasticism, will it be right if Muslims also incite a rage of their own ‘saints’ to demand the abolition of the vow of celibacy because they believe that it is the primal compounder of the most ignoble abuses of minors, namely sodomization, pedophilia and rape, especially by sexually-depraved ‘men of God’? And can Muslims bear placards –like non Muslims did on Yerima’s marriage- to protest the admittance of ‘minors’ into monasteries because of the potentials of vulnerability to the depravations of hard-pressed, celibate ‘clergies’? Or maybe, since Christian groups, to liberate the Muslim girl-child, have always arrogated the right to de-campaign the Islamic practice of early marriage, should Muslim groups arrogate the right also to ‘liberate’ Christian spouses from the ‘bondage’ of Christendom’s conjugal doctrine of ‘till-death-do-us-part’, because the Bible does not approve divorce except on the ‘lone’ ground of adultery? Or should Muslim ethical groups –also in defense of ‘public morality’- campaign against churches that wed premaritally-expectant couples just because ‘marrying-while-pregnant’ is offensive to Islamic values? Or again, should Muslim Rights groups mount the spiritual soapbox to campaign against what many, including Christians, believe is a vicious, potentially crime-inducing strain of ‘prosperity preaching’ by the Church that encourages a form of ‘spiritual capitalism’ which aids corruption in the society?
If Muslims should do these, a rage of Christian saints would then ask: ‘what is the business of these ‘abokis’? Or ‘wetin concern these mallams?’ –and which they did when some Muslims dared to voice support for the death sentence passed on the murderous ‘man-of-God’, Reverend King. We were asked to mind our business, ironically by those who had made it their business to demonize Muslims and to de-campaign Islam even for the lone action of Yarima, when he amputated Jangedi. The same who, using ethnicity and religion, had held Islam and Muslims collectively responsible for the lone, deviant conduct of a few of their own who kidnapped Olu Falae. The same who had held Islam and Muslims collectively responsible for the lone action of an adolescent Yunusa who had controversially ‘abducted’ or eloped with 14-year-old Ese Oruru from Bayelsa. Yet the same who would neither demonize Christians nor inquisition Christianity for the involvement of a ‘Pastor’ in the kidnap of three female students of an Ikorodu boarding school. And this has always been the case, that every negative conduct of a Muslim makes all Muslims representatively guilty and Islam vicariously liable; but the negative conduct of every Christian is made always to seem merely res ipsa loquitor, as product of a lone actor without any concatenation with the teachings of Christ or the bible. It has always required a single Muslim, innocuously getting into controversy, especially of a religious nature, for this ‘rage of the Christian saints’ to be unleashed -in print, electronic and online media. This has never augured well for interfaith relations; it will never augur well for interfaith relations.
And now just imagine, if the reverse had been the case, -that the infamy now dubbed ‘Kano 9’ was perpetrated in the reverse, and that what we have is ‘Anambra 9’! Just imagine!!
Over a year ago, while writing a piece on June 12 and searching for befitting metaphors to describe the tragic assassination of my Principal, namely the late MKO, the words of a character, Salisbury, in one of Shakespeare’s history plays, (King John), came to mind. It is a deeply poetic description of the King’s sponsored assassination of his own nephew, Arthur, and which, I think requires a mild paraphrase first, before I serve it. Salisbury is saying in that description, that Arthur’s murder (given the monstrous manner it was carried out, the gory spectacle of blood spilled, the shameful, beastly manner of its execution, and the nasty, fatal strikes that actuated the victim), had no historic equivalent; nor will it a future equal; and that in fact all previous murders were like a play, paling into pure piety, compared to Arthur’s gruesome assassination’. But in describing Abiola’s state-sponsored assassination I had quoted Salisbury’s exact words thus:
“This is the very top, the height, the crest, or crest unto the crest, of murder’s arms; this is the bloodiest shame, the wildest savagery, the vilest stroke, that ever wall-eyed wrath or staring rage presented to the tears of soft remorse. All murders past do stand excused and this, so sole and so unmatchable, shall give a holiness, a purity, to the yet un-begotten sin of times; and prove a deadly bloodshed but a jest, exampled by this heinous spectacle”.
I never wished that in the nearest or even farthest future, I should ever require, again, the aid of such gruesome metaphors to bemoan a misfortune befalling anyone –friend or foe- until the need now has presented itself to describe this unspeakable crime committed against the ‘Kano-9’and still finding no better than Shakespeare’s Salisbury’s acrid words describing the murder of Arthur and which I had used to qualify the assassination of MKO. Except that in this case I am applying a literary device called ‘parody’ for this despicable crime, inside of which are four despicable crimes, each no less devilish in conception and execution, than the other. We are talking about an ethno-religiously-motivated abduction of minors all the way from the Westermost Northern part of Kano to the Eastermost Southern region of Anambra; a forced religious conversion of the mentally and psychologically unaware, from Islam to Christianity; a forced baptism of the already baptized, from Islamic or traditional Hausa names to Igbo names and then the criminal trafficking and sell of other peoples’ children into forced labor -or slavery. And this is what I parody as:
‘the very top, the height, the crest, or crest unto the crest, of evil’s machination; this is the cruelest deed ever, the wildest abuse of child innocence, the vilest human pillage, that ever wall-eyed wrath or staring hate presented to the tears of soft remorse. All crimes past, do stand excused and these four offences all rolled in one offensive act, so sole and so unmatchable, shall give a holiness, a purity, to the yet un-begotten sin of times; and prove the most ignoble child abuse anywhere but a jest, exampled by this heinous spectacle’.
I rest my case