Ayanda: Still on Cole’s perception of Islam (2)
•Continued from yesterday
SO, where does Islam fit into the picture? Does the jihadist perpetrators’ claim to represent Islam authenticate that claim without reservation? If so, then can one presume automatically that Anders Behring Breivik was a Christian terrorist because he claimed he was motivated to preserve and safeguard Christianity and largely Christian nations from multi-culturalism and ‘Islamisation’? Does the same go for former U.S. President George W. Bush’s claim that ‘God told him to end the tyranny in Iraq,’ after which the ensuing war and occupation resulted in countless innocent deaths, torture and detention without charge, etc.?
Again, if Adolf Hitler that killed six million Jews in an attempt to wipe out the Jewish race cannot be attributed to Christianity and no one would call what he did Christian, why did Dr. Cole attribute what extremists, fanatics and radicals do to Islam? And why the need to ask the rhetorical question about what Islam wants when Dr. Cole has read the Quran for more than seven times? The seasoned diplomat’s articles were filled with contradictions and anomalies. It raises more questions than answers that the diplomat seems strangely indisposed to delve into.
Furthermore, the Central African Republic (CAR) faced deadly unrest in late 2013 when Christian armed groups launched coordinated attacks against the mostly Muslim Seleka group that toppled the government in March 2013. According to AFP report, Adama Dieng, a senior UN advisor on the prevention of genocide warned that the country was being emptied of its Muslim population. He said “unless those who are perpetrating these serious crimes are made to account for those crimes, it is unlikely that we will not reach…genocide.” Dieng was among the first to warn of the escalating sectarian violence in the African country, saying the country was at risk of genocide. He said: “People are fleeing because they know that they are being targeted on the grounds of their religion”.
Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said most of the Muslims were driven out of the CAR’s western half. Guterres told a meeting of the UN Security Council on the crisis in the impoverished African country, that “Since early December we have effectively witnessed a ‘cleansing’ of the majority of the Muslim population in the western CAR.” Some 2,000 French troops, supported by a 6,000-strong African Union force known as MISCA, were deployed to CAR. Yet, Dieng noted that the foreign forces have so far failed to curb the violence. “Despite the presence of these troops…we are still now extremely worried,” Dieng said, stressing the need to protect the remaining Muslims.
In a country where the state cannot guarantee the security of humanity from assault by the elemental forces of nature through the institution of law and order, religion is often the likeliest agency people turn to for interpreting the vagaries of their existence. Boko Haram’s actions cast some light on our institutional failings and underline the logic behind Cole’s narratives of Boko Haram conundrum. If not for ignorance, how can we see Muslims as Boko Haram members or sympathisers? Or is that not the same attitude we condemn as ignorance, when non-Nigerians glibly catalogue Nigerians as fraudsters?
Surely we must appreciate the voluntary contribution of civilians as member of Joint Task Force in the North-Eastern part of Nigeria and the dogged local hunters who deemed it fit to support the state in repelling Boko Haram which closely resembles Maitatsine – the violent extremist cult that inaugurated the bloody era of religious terrorism in northern Nigeria in the early 1980s. This pragmatic approach is in addition to global condemnation by both Muslims and non-Muslims who are genuinely concerned about the well being of the country. For instance, South Africa Muslim Network would have this to say about Boko Haram: “This is totally un-Islamic act. It is contrary to the Sharia and what is in the Koran. There is no place for this in Islam no matter who does it, regardless of whatever cause they try and perceive it to be.” Dr. Cole can avail himself with global reaction denouncing Boko Haram at Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs site under the caption “United against Terrorism” via http://nscia.com.ng/index.php/16-info-portal/article-releases-and-publications/93-united-against-terrorism.
While Dr. Cole seems to be an advocate of secular society as against religious state which exists in most Middle East, the argument about Vatican country of Italy and Middle East as Christian, Islamic and Jewish states requires serious scrutiny. The constitution as I was made to believe recognizes Nigeria as a multi-religious state and the country inherits her system of law from Britain. British Common Law gave birth to Nigerian law as a result of colonialism. In considering the secular nature of Britain, one needs to ask the fundamental question as to the origin of British Common Law.
Common Law originated in the Middle Ages in England and adopted in countries that trace their legal heritage to England as former colonies of the British Empire, including Nigeria, Ghana, USA, which Dr. Cole claimed to be secular societies. How true is this assertion of secularity? Exempli gratia, in the case of Bowman versus Secular Society Limited (1916-17), Lord Summers declared: “Ours is, and has always been, a Christian State. The English family is built on Christian ideals and if the national religion is not Christianity, there is none. English law may well be called Christian law.” While commenting in the same case, Lord Finlay, the then Lord Chancellor, declared, “There is abundant authority for saying that Christianity is part and parcel of the law of the land”. In the same vein, Sir Mathew Hale (1609 – 1676) was quoted in the Historia Placitorum Coronae (1736) as saying, “Christianity is part of the common law of England”.
Anyone familiar with Sir William Blackstone’s (1723 – 1780) Commentaries on the Laws of England will never entertain second thoughts on the origin of common law as the incisive work finds common law tied to the umbilical cord of Christianity.
It is also on record that Lloyd Kenyon (1732–1802) declared, “The Christian religion is part of the law of the land.” Here in Nigeria, the celebrated Justice Karibi Whyte (retired justice of Supreme Court of Nigeria) is known to have declared that the Holy Bible contains the fundamental basis of common law. Obviously, Common Law is British law and British law draws heavily from Christian culture and tradition. Where lies then the secularity theory that Dr. Cole is advocating for?
If the claim that 26 out of 28 wars in the world today concern Islam has been the other way round with Cole’s chosen religion, he would have formulated a new theory linking terrorism with signs of end time. Nevertheless, the optimistic solution in achieving global political harmony and peaceful state lies in the philosophical thought of the legendary scholar and reformer, Uthman Dan Fodio that: “A nation can endure with disbelief but no nation can endure with injustice.” Injustice is the mother of oppression and oppression begets nothing but terrorism!
• Engr. Ayanda (MNSE), wrote from Ibadan.