“Being unable to reason is not a positive character trait outside religion” – Dewey Henize
Let me come upfront to give all followers of religion a disclaimer: I am born of both the Muslim and the Christian heritage of foreign religions in my country. My Grandfather on my father’s side was a Christian- in fact; he was one of the patrons (Baba Ijo) of the Catholic Church in the Egbeoba Kingdom of Ekiti state. On the other hand, my grandfather on my mother’s side was a devout Muslim – when he died, he was the Aare Musulimi of Ikere Ekiti, the land of my mothers. I hope this little treatise save my head in the future, because in a world suddenly turned mad because of religion, precaution appears to be the best prevention.
The recent happening in the world is really appalling. The whole thing started like a joke (in reality it is far from child’s play). Some cartoon of the holy prophet Mohammed (God Bless His Soul) depicting him in terrorist garb have been causing ripples in the Islamic world. First, when the news broke, it was said that Danish newspapers were the first publishers of this riveting work of journalism and afterwards it has been republished in half a dozen Western countries. The Muslim world have since risen in unison to punish the west (at least so they think) and have persisted in burning, tearing down and threatening death to all the keferis (infidels) that dared to publish the face of the Great prophet not to talk of doing so in denigrating terms – as a terrorist! Chai, blasphemy!
It is easy to see the two sides of this issue. While the western media have taken the high horse to protect their own culture of free press and free speech (even Kanye West dressed like Jesus with thorns in the last publication of Rolling Stones), the Muslim world is about to hear nothing about it. This appears to all observers however, as the ultimate culture clash since the time of the Crusade. Yes, the Crusade! I said it – so what? You see, may be because of my true African heritage discussing religion is not a problem but in our world today filled with evil people that use religion as a tool of oppression words like mine a abruptly labeled as blasphemous in the Middle East or politically incorrect in the west.
On one hand, the western media clearly over stepped its boundaries. Granted, the Danish newspapers have a right to express what they feel about this new religion overtaking their Scandinavian Alps (there are now 0.85 million Muslims in this small country). But what excuse has the French newspaper got for republishing it? Was the reaction least expected? Was this not the same France that was just enveloped by Muslim youth protest against discrimination? Why has the French largely escape the retribution of these protests? Why is the New Zealand, German or Austrian press doing this copy-cat solidarity? Is the western reaction of defiance by publishing not a proof of seething arrogance that already rubs off badly on the other peoples of the world? Why are Anti-Jewish speech banned in Germany, France and Austria yet anti-Islam speech allowed?
To the last question, many double standard advocates will say Jews are a people and have no choice of birth, but Muslims are religious hence they can change their religion. Does this justify hate speech in any form? In fact, is this argument not trite? Don’t we all know that for both Jews and their Arabs competitors the role of religion is paramount in their society? Is Jew not equals Judaism and Arab equals Islam at least for the most part? Why should we tolerate disrespect to one another in the name of free speech? Does your right not stop where mine start? Is this not making situation worse in the Middle East, after the mess King George II of the United States has created in the Middle East in his short five years? Do they know they are creating problems for countries like Lebanon or Nigeria where Muslims and Christians already exists side by side in a state of tension?
On the other hand however, what are Muslims trying to prove? Does God need anyone to fight for Him? When does fighting for God become moronic? All these in the name of jihad? If they require that hate speech against them be curtailed, why don’t they curtail the same against Israel coming from the Iranian president or Hamas? Why is it difficult for the Islamic world to realize we don’t all have to abide by their rules in our countries? Is Jesus not one of their prophets? Why don’t they protest when the images of Jesus are published? Are they too feeble minded to realize this protest is promoting the same image they are trying to resists? Who really cares about whose cartoon is published? I bet this is a very good time to be a manufacturer of western flags: at the rate they are being burned the Chinese must be printing cash!
By the way, the clown in Iran is breaking off relations with Denmark – which is more evil the cartoon or this clown trying to begin nuclear war part two? Is the Islamic world not better off addressing the needs of her people wallowing in poverty in the midst of kleptocratic elites looting their oil wealth? Has Islam not been used to blind the eyes of many of its followers? Is Islam really a religion of peace as they claim? Is it a September cartoon that is causing this much madness in Arab streets? Why didn’t a similar September bombing of the World Trade Center provoke the same reaction? Is the burning of the Danish embassy a dismemberment of the beautiful streets of Damascus or that of Copenhagen? Is the killing of a fellow Muslim in Lebanon or the death of one in Afghanistan a veritable avengement for your cause? Have all your anger made you a better Muslim or a worse one? Are Muslims more prone to anger and violence than other religions? Why are the idiots in Kano up to no good again? Wetin concern Denmark concern them?
You see, I am a free born African. And I know the actions of both the Western media and the Islamic extremist will not get the approval of both of my grandfathers. My grandfathers were not extremists, they were men of honor who believed in a world where men of different religion can bond regardless of their beliefs and gave their children for the purpose of uniting two families that became one physically in me. Pa Bakare and Pa Oluwagbemi are not unique; they are among thousands of men and women that just seek to make ends meet daily and care less about the pervading elitism of the media or pontiffs of both religions.
Many commentators have sought to characterize this as some extraordinary clash of cultures or civilization, but they are simply incorrect. In fact, I doubt if both ends of the debate are civilized because respect and tolerance are cornerstones of civilized people. South of the tributary where Benue and Niger meets in Nigeria are many Moslems that respect their rights of their neighbors, family and friends to be different. Why men of fair colors of the west or their Semitic counterparts of the Arab-Hausa-Fulani extractions vent their angers at each other is their business. As far as I am concerned this is not civilizations clashing, it is actually God’s punishment to two ethnic groups that connived to trade in human beings on the mother continent -Africa. Tell me –what do Europeans (westerners) and Arabs have in common? Indeed, they both looted the mother continent and now the curse is coming round. May God forgive both of their descendants before they lead our world to a third world war. Amen.
“When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said “Let us pray.” We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.”
Bishop Desmond Tutu (South African Spiritual leader and Novelist, b.1931)
“Religion consists of a set of things which the average man thinks he believes and wishes he was certain”