Nigerian Muslims urge government to 'redress injustices'

Nigerian Muslims urge government to
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Thousands of Nigerian Muslims on Sunday urged authorities to "redress the many injustices" against Muslims but reiterated readiness to work with Nigerians of other faiths for the benefit of their country.

"We frown at the continued marginalization of the Muslims across the country and in Lagos," Prof Ishaq Oloyede, of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), told thousands of cheering Muslims gathered at the Tarawa Balewa Square in Lagos.

"And we warn politicians to desist from hoping to benefit from polarizing the country along ethno-religious lines. It is not good," he added.

Thousands of Nigerian Muslims flocked to the square to pray for the oil-rich nation that is nonetheless gripped by poverty and sectarian strife now accentuated by insurgency in its northeast.

Themed "Muslims pray for the Nation," the event is organized by the Joint Muslim Forum, an amalgam of Muslim organizations drawn largely from Lagos State, Nigeria's former political capital with hugely rich Muslim history.

Attending the event are numerous eminent Muslim personalities, scholars and public figures including Chief Imam of Lagos Sheikh Ibrahim Garba, Justice Habeeb Abiru of Lagos High Court and prominent preacher Sheikh Adebayo Tejidini.

Also presents are the leaders of Nigeria's largest groups including Sheikh Abdullahi Akinbode of Nasrullah-il-Fathi; Sheikh Abdurrahman Adangba of Qareeb Islamic Society and Dr. Abdurahman Ahmad of Ansar-Ud-Deen Islamic Society of Nigeria.

Up to 100 different Muslim groups are represented at the event.

Habib Fasinro, an elder statesman, said the prayer is Muslims' contribution and duty to their country "regardless of the fact that we are discriminated against."
"We therefore urge our leaders to stop marginalizing the Muslims," he added.

Fasinro, holder of Nigeria's national honor, Order of the Federal Republic (OFR), called on Muslims to unite against oppressions but shun violence.

No official figure exists for Nigeria's Muslim and Christian populations, as religion and ethnicity were never used as criteria in previous national censuses.

But independent pollsters, including the US-based Pew Review, suggest that Muslims constitute at least 50 percent of Nigeria's estimated population of 175 million. Christians, however, dispute this figure.

The Muslim leaders raised concerns about many grievances affecting their community.

"Even as we remain peaceful and willing to work with all Nigerians, we reject subjugation in all its shades," said Oloyede, a former university vice chancellor and prominent Arabic teacher.

"The question of Shariah court, rejection of Islamic and Arabic teachers in our elementary schools, the issue of hijab, the discrimination and disparities in government appointments - all skewed against Muslims - must be addressed," he stressed.

Urging Muslims to partake in party politics, Oloyede warned Muslims against disunity, a factor he blamed for the continued "marginalization of the Muslims in Nigeria."
Prof Fatima Abdulkareen, a ranking female Muslim scholar, rejected widespread notion that Muslim women are oppressed.

"We not oppressed. Hijab is our choice. Modesty is our pride," she told the gathering.

"As Muslim women, let us do our duties to our society. Let us speak with one voice, whether men or women."

Sheikh Abdurrahman Ahmad, a prominent preacher and imam of the influential Ansar-ud-deen Society of Nigeria, also criticized the authorities.
"We are marginalized," he complained.

"No group is as marginalized and economically disadvantaged than the Muslims."

Sheikh Ahmad insisted that today's event should be a wake-up call for the authorities.

"This is to show the world that we are Muslims. We are not terrorists. We are not arsonists," he said.

"There is no peace, no security and no progress. There is anger and hunger. Everywhere confusion reigns," he lamented.

Peaceful

Sheikh Ahmad insisted that despite the marginalization, Nigerian Muslims remain peaceful.

"We are for peace," he told the cheering thousands.

"Allah should guide our leader to be just. In spite of our anger, we bear no grudge against anyone," insisted the Muslim leader.

"We are praying to Allah to give Nigeria peace.

Sheikh Ahmad said no country moves forward without justice to every segment.

"We are gathered as Muslims because we feel a sense of duty to work together to make our country great," he told the crowd.

"There is no peace, no security and no progress. There is anger and hunger. Everywhere confusion reigns," he lamented.

"As Muslims we are calling on Allah to intervene, to give us peace, to guide our leaders aright, to enable us and them to follow the path to attain lasting peace," added the imam.

"We urge politicians to refrain from causing divisions among different people," he said.

"We pray Allah to let them bury their inordinate ambitions and to let us choose right. Unless our politicians stop their divisive ways, they will have no country to govern. We want peace but we are also demanding for our right."

PHOTO CAPTION

Nigerian National Mosque

Source: AA

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