RELIGIOUS INTOLERANCE AND HATE PREACHERS
‘There is a fine line between free speech and hate speech. Free speech encourages debate while hate speech incites violence’-Newton Lee
‘I have decided to stick to love, hate is too much a burden to bear’-Martin Luther King Jnr
Hate speech is defined as a speech which attacks a person or group based on gender, ethnic origin, religion, race, disability or sexual orientation. Nigeria with her multi-cultural and ethnic diversity is not immune to the challenges and realities of hate speech and it’s resultant violence. However I would like to dwell on a particular type of hate that has dominated our thoughts recently as Nigerians…Religious intolerance. This is not unconnected to thousands of Christians that have been killed in recent times with no one being arrested or prosecuted for these heinous crimes. The outrage in the Christian communities following the disturbing ease with which the Fulanis (muslims) are killing Christians prompted most episcopal leaders and Christian bodies to adapt the policy of self-defence as it appears the government is doing a poor job in the protection of lives and properties.
Apostle Johnson Suleiman admonished his members that they should not fold their arms and be killed that they should kill any Fulani that come close to them or the church. This recent remarks that have caused firestorm are not controversial but an attempt by a religious leader tired of his government ineptitude to speak/act against injustice. In anger and obvious disappointment in the government of the day, Bishop David Oyedepo stated in clear terms and in a more horrific picture that any of the killers that come close to the church should be killed and his blood spilled on the ground. These comments has been branded hate speech and the Department of State Security have invited Apostle Johnson Sulaiman for questioning after Gov. Fayose of Ekiti prevented the DSS from an attempted arrest (abduction) of the cleric. If you are a concerned Nigerian, it is pertinent to ask if any Muslim or Northern leader have made any incisive comment that can be classified as hate speech or are Christians having monopoly over the use of ‘hate languages’?.
As the famous novelist George Orwell said ‘All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others’. Dating back to the 1950s and early ‘60s, most Northern leaders and clerics have made some statements that can be described as hate speech. Ahmadu Bello as the premier of Northern Nigeria, introduced the Northernization policy, making it almost a crime for a government in the North to employ a non-Northerner. During the 2011 election, then General Buhari in a video shown on National Television Authority urged his followers to kill anyone that tries to stop them from exercising their civic duty. In 2012, El Rufai now governor of Kaduna state wrote in a tweet ‘We will write for all to read, anyone, soldier or not that kills the Fulani takes a loan repayable one day no matter how long it takes’ It came as no surprise that four years later, thousands of the predominantly Christian southern Kaduna were killed and houses burnt by the Fulanis and they were paid by the governor to ‘stop’ the killing!!! It is worthy of note to state clearly that no single person have been arrested or jailed for the killing of Christians in the North by the Fulanis and no Northerner has been invited by the DSS for making a ‘hate’ speech.
In conclusion I would like to point out that the docile posture of the present government to act when Christians are killed by Fulanis is not only worrisome but puzzling. To stop these hate crimes and speech, we as Nigerians must learn to tolerate each other irrespective of our religious beliefs.
Everest Nwagwu, A communications executive and Editor of www.myonekobo.com
Twitter: @mrprezident007 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org