- The girls are still Christians – CAN
From Maryam Garba Hassan Muhammad Ibrahim, Kaduna
One of the leading Islamic clerics in Abuja, Ustaz Husain Zakariyya, has said the religion of Islam has forbidden any one from forcing fellow human beings to embrace the religion or any other religion.
The cleric said this in a telephone interview with our reporter in reaction to the video purportedly issued by the Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, indicating that some of the abducted schoolgirls have converted to Islam.
Zakariyya faulted any forceful conversion to Islam of any person. He said there is a verse in the Holy Qur’an that forbids one from being forced into any religion, adding that it is bad if the sect forced the girls who are still children to accept a religion they do not or may not understand under such condition.
In the 17-minute video clip purportedly released by Shekau in which he spoke in Arabic Hausa language, over 100 of the abducted girls were shown dressed in hijab and reciting part of the Holy Quran at an undisclosed location.
Two of the kidnapped girls that were interviewed said they were Christians but now Muslims, while a third girl said they were not harmed by their abductors.
Meanwhile, National President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, yesterday reacted over Shekau’s claims that the abducted girls have been converted to Islam, describing it as unacceptable as the girls still remain Christians. The CAN president disclosed this through Elder Sunday Oibe, National Director of Research of CAN, at a press conference in Kaduna.
He said that the girls are Christians and not Muslims, adding that they cannot be converted to a religion that is not theirs at gun point.
He alleged that they were converted because they are Christians and they represent the church in the eyes of their abductors.
“It smirks of some form of religious persecution, if not why are their captors converting them to another religion? And if they say they will use them as a condition to negotiate release of their men in detention….our daughters are not criminals and cannot be used in any way to free their criminal fighters,” he said.
The CAN leader further alleged that their abduction was a declaration of war on Christians and the church, stressing that no amount of propaganda can deter them from saying the truth.
“Show us where in Nigeria you have seen Christians fighting and throwing bombs in the name of God”, he asked rhetorically.
“We challenge anyone to show us where Christians have abducted Muslim children in the name of Christianity.
“We challenge anyone to prove to us in Nigeria where Christians have taken arms in the name of protecting Christianity or even carried out acts of genocide on helpless and defenceless Nigerians. As far we are concerned, it is a war against Christians and Christianity.
“We are not speaking for the Nigerian State; the state will speak for itself but we cannot be forced by some people to define for us our predicament and persecution. No amount of propaganda can deter us from saying the truth.
“We have said ours, it is now left for the government to expedite action and return our children to us. They are Christians, they are not slaves, they are not Muslims and it is unacceptable to us. Let the whole world see it now,” he said.