BY SAMUEL NGOMA
A bit of square-pegging in a round hole, was a recent Inter-faith gathering at Lusaka’s Civic Centre. The UN-driven anti-Boko Haram crusade was misplaced.
And with all due respect, some dignitaries spoke out of turn. You have to admire the comic timing of that event.
They made Boko-Haram look glamorous and here’s why. Ask any Alcoholic, they all confess they started-off as social drinkers. Ask any Boko Haram terrorist, they all started off as decent muslims who couldn’t harm a Fly!
One doesn’t need to be a Rocket Scientist to discern that the heavy onus lies on Islam and all its followers to condemn Boko Haram from Mosque to Mosque. Muslims, not non-muslims, must ask the bulk of the questions against Boko Haram. Muslims should answer to why there is a fine line between their religion and terrorism. All told, Boko Haram is a muslim baby!
At this time of record demand for Boko Haram to free more than 200 Nigerian girls, muslims will only be taken seriously if they themselves march on the terrorist organisation’s hideout, demanding an end to its madness.
It’s no use for any muslim to repeat the cracked record of “Islam is a peaceful religion.” O, is it? As a matter of fact, on Islam being a peaceful religion, we all agree on one thing: there’s no agreement. Or if it is such a haven of peace, let’s see it. Let’s see an end to bloodythirsty Terrorist groups such as Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda, Hamas and Al Shabab. Let’s see an end to the perennial fights between Sunnis and Shias.
With such dents, it is never going to be easy for Islam to find a social, political and cultural identity without the Shariah law and that means violence. And, as if the abduction of 200 Nigerian girls is not enough, so soon in Sudan, there is already another indictment against Islam as global media outrage mounts.
A beautiful Christian lady, Meriem Ibrahim, faces a death penalty for being a Christian! Of her own volition, she chose Jesus as her only Saviour and that eternal choice has put her in harm’s way under Sudanese Shariah law. The muslims want her to forcibly adopt the muslim faith of her father but she stands resolute on her pledge of allegiance to the Lamb of God who bore her sin.
And because Ibrahim will not recant her faith in Jesus, muslims see her as deserving of death. She is married to a fellow Christian and muslims do not recognise her marriage under Shariah law. For now, the only thing that has saved Ibrahim is child-bearing. She bore a child a few days ago and she’s allowed two years to live and breastfeed her baby before they can cruelly kill her in the name of Shariah law.
In short, at first blush Islam seems a peaceful religion to the unenlightened but reality tells a different story than most seem to think. Consequently, it was deeply troubling that dignitaries at the Lusaka Civic centre event did not lose any time in taking a swipe at harmless Zambians who were now casting aspersions on all muslim girls in Lusaka as “Boko Haram.” You can’t blame Zambians, can you?
The huge onus is on muslims to abandon a darkly ambiguous silence and truly condemn Boko Haram with repeated fire which should reach the terrorist group.
In Northern Nigeria, for instance, muslims’ lack of condemnation for Boko Haram is palpable. It means consent. Meanwhile, Boko Haram is widening its murderous range, thirsty for more blood even after killing 12,000 people so far, with a characteristic chilling unconcern. And Christians are the main target.
Boko Haram is ever so happy to kill Christians. The script is repeated again and again. This is a bunch of thugs who pursue Christians in Northern Nigeria to try and force them to deny their faith. In 2011, they shot a Christian man who would not deny God’s Holy Son, Jesus.
Lest we forget, Boko Haram’s agenda is to impose Shariah law on Nigeria. The terrorist organisation has even grown into a cross-border network of networks. You shut one, it’s rerouted elsewhere to rain bombs on Abuja or Jos.
The educated guess is that it may have been hugely funded by the late Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi. Once, he betrayed his hidden intentions when he suggested that Nigeria should be split on religious grounds between north and south. Boko Haram surely have the financial and military backing of some muslim nations, whether nearby or in the middle-east.
This Boko Haram madness should therefore not be defined at a whim. It’s not a simple binary equation, it’s a complicated calculus. And so, what was all that about at the Civic Centre, three Saturdays ago? All we heard were dignitaries who are Islamic apologists when what was needed was a shift in emphasis to openly tell muslims that whether they like it or loathe it, the fact remains that Boko Haram poses a credibility problem of Islam.
The buck stops at any mosque. It’s up to all muslims to kick the thing into touch. It was needless at the Civic centre meeting for any dignitary to address Christians when the problem at hand is a terrorist group that is doing so in Islam’s name.
Largely, true and not false Christians are the victims of such terrorist groups; in Sudan, in Somalia, in Egypt and the middle-east, Christians are under heavy attack. Fresh, as already pointed out, is the story of Ms. Ibrahim, in Sudan, who married a fellow Christian. She’s in jail just now for her faith and has been told that because she’s a Christian and did not marry under Shariah law, her marriage will be nullified!
In Zambia, muslims are not sent to jail for their faith and yet the harm that has been done to Christians in muslim countries is beyond description. That is why, a well-travelled Zambian cannot believe the soothing rhetoric that tries to promote Islam as a peaceful religion.
That is why, UN organisers at the Civic centre Inter-faith gathering wasted the time of Zambians and evidently theirs. Zambians already have the gift of peace by virtue of Christian influence upon the nation and instead of “preaching to the converted,” the organisers should have put at the top of their global policy agenda, a stern talking to muslims.
Instead of making excuses for Islam, they should have etched a new template for it. As a matter of fact, inter-faith gatherings are not for Zambia, any more than they are for Islamic republics. In strict Islamic republics, the church is an underground unit.
Why, then, won’t the UN go to these Islamic republics and demand that they embrace Christians and not butcher them? And yet in Zambia, muslims are not under attack. They freely practice their religion.
What cannot be practiced and the UN in Zambia needs to read this, are the nonsensical inter-faith gatherings. They are an abomination, they have glitches, because muslims and Christians do not worship the same God. Far from it. Christians believe in the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ and muslims have their own god they believe in.
All roads do not lead to Heaven. That is why Christ said, “He who is not with me is against me and he who does not gather with me shall scatter.” Christ was very categorical that He alone is the Way, He and His Father(God) are One and “unless you believe that I am God, you shall die in your sins.”
And so, the Temple of Christ cannot be the temple of Islam. Christ cannot be equalled to any religious leader. There is no other name God has given under heaven by which men may be saved, except Christ alone. He alone conquered death. He alone is the Saviour of the world.
For this reason, the UN on Lusaka’s Alick Nkhata road must not bring its abominations to Zambia. Zambia does not need inter-faith gatherings exported from that dimly-lit eerie room at the UN headquarters in New York. Zambia is a Christian nation by covenant and proclamation from all its 10 provinces as amplified when the Constitutional technical committee went round to get the views of “We, the people.”
But then, why do Zambians catch a cold when UN agencies sneeze! How could Zambians allow themselves to be huddled together at an Inter-faith gathering which they know from childhood is alien. Growing up for every true Zambian, “muchawa” was “muchawa” and a Christian was a Christian. No prizes for guessing why.
Then came some UN organisers with an Inter-faith gathering a fortnight ago. It must not be. And yet why was it allowed? Shockingly, the enemy of the souls of Zambians has noticed cracks in the nation’s walls.
Not surprising, because it is only in Zambia where a small fry UN officer or Second Secretary at some Embassy can commandeer a legion of Zambian dignitaries to a cocktail party and get maximum media coverage.
Only in Zambia, where a foreign Ambassador is given huge coverage in the media just for presenting credentials. And yet Zambian diplomats abroad have never been covered by the local press in their countries of accreditation. What is big news in Zambia, where an Ambassador features for an hour on a local television station, is reduced to in-house Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ magazines or Newsletters abroad.
And so, the rack and crow of foreign diplomats from the UN and other, must not be allowed to export alien gods and concepts to Zambia in form of “inter-faith terrorism.”
Fortunately for Zambia, inter-faith gatherings are a heroic failure wherever they have been posted, fundamentally they won’t work, that is why Nigeria has an enemy within. You think Nigeria never tried? They even tried rotating the Presidency between Christians and muslims. It died at birth. That is why, Caucasians, whether Zambian-born or otherwise, whether in the UN agencies or wherever, must never lecture us on how to treat muslims. Zambia has been hospitable to muslims, at her own social expense ever since records began.
Muslims freely do their thing in Zambia and have never faced capital punishment, not least, for noise pollution. It’s as if Zambians are stupidly hospitable. And yet in muslim regions as exampled by Ibrahim’s case in Sudan, Christians forever face a dust-storm of arrests and deaths at the hands of muslims. Isn’t that an indictment on Islam?
Perhaps it explains why muslims in peaceful countries like Zambia always want to explain “how peaceful” they are. But then, why must they always have something to prove about peace when, for Christians, the issue of being peaceful, goes without saying? Christians do not need any charm offensive.
That muslims have become so defensive nowadays, can only mean a realisation that there is a credibility problem in their circles, a lack of emotional intelligence in some parts of their world where there is inability to understand the role of emotions in one’s decision-making process. This is what constitutes the absurd and murderous dreams of Boko Haram which dignitaries who gathered at Lusaka’s Civic Centre, three weeks ago, lamentably failed to address.
As a result of which, the recent inter-faith gathering at Lusaka’s Civic centre was reduced to a damp squib. Square pegs cannot fit in a round hole, it just won’t happen.
The Author is a Veteran Journalist and former Diplomat to the EU.