Thirteen Muslim groups in the country have urged the Nigerian government and state governments to enact laws or strengthen existing laws against blasphemy and killing for blasphemy outside of the law.

 

The Muslim groups include the Muslim Rights Concern; Al-Usrah Incorporated, Port Harcourt, Rivers State; the Islamic Forum; Movement for Islamic Culture and Awareness; Muslim Public Affairs Centre; The Academy; Muslim Students Society, Lagos State Area Unit; Ansar-ud-Deen Youth Association of Nigeria (ADYAN); and Lighthouse Mosque.

Others are IRFAN Centre; Zakaat and Awqaaf Amana Foundation; Guild of Muslim Professionals and Muslim Vanguard.

 

The groups under the aegis of the Muslim United for Peace made the demands during a meeting on Sunday in the Ikeja area of Lagos State, while condemning the brutal murder of Deborah Samuel, who was killed in Sokoto for allegedly insulting Prophet Mohammad (S.A.W).

 

They also urged Islamic scholars to issue fatwah against jungle justice and extrajudicial killing at any time.

 

They, however, noted that the tragic event of Deborah's murder can be a turning point in Muslim-Christian relations, and herald a new era of peaceful and respectful coexistence, ‘if each religious adherent will embrace and sincerely practice the sublime messages of their faith’.

The group also condemned insults, abuse and all mischievous attacks against “all prophets of God", calling on Christian leaders to employ all means to fend off intolerance.

 

A press statement issued after the meeting reads in part, “We condemn every act of insult and provocation along religious and ethnic fault lines. In particular, we condemn in an equal measure any insults, abuse, denigration or mischievous attacks against any and all prophets of God, be it Muhammad (SAW), Jesus, Moses, Abraham or any other (peace be on them all).

 

“We call for deep introspection by leaders of the Christian community and urge them to employ all means to fend off intolerance. We urge governments of all the states of the Federation to strengthen or promulgate (where none exists) laws to criminalise blasphemy, and killing for blasphemy outside the law, and faithfully enforce them.

 

“We urge Muslim scholars to issue fatwah specifically against frontier justice, jungle justice and extrajudicial killing at any time.

 

"Moreso, we appeal to Imams to use the Friday khutbah to spread and promote the peaceful coexistence, respect for constituted authority and rule of law, as enjoined in Islam.

 

“We lament the poor state of the judicial system in Nigeria and call for improvement of same in order to restore public confidence in the judicial system, as well as prompt and effective administration of justice.

 

“We condemn jungle justice and lament its endemic nature in Nigeria and call for justice for all other victims of extrajudicial killings, the Tijaniyyah travellers who were murdered in Jos, the Baptist College, Ijagbo, hijab killing, the Lekki killing by okada riders and other similar acts of barbarism and mob violence.

 

“We express strong solidarity with voices of reason and moderation amongst scholars of Islam and declare readiness to continue working together to strengthen the pillars of national peace, reconciliation and understanding.

 

“We urge leaders of faiths to continue to enlighten and educate adherents on the need for mutual respect, to focus on messages of love and work against voices of hatred and extremism amongst them.

 

“We call on the leadership of The Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) in particular to demonstrate that they stand united and together in opposition to all prejudiced appeals.

 

“We call on the organisation to use the platform to denounce the act of extrajudicial murder and the alleged crime that led to it, including the high prevalence of Islamophobia, the threat of the forces seeking to delegitimise genuine concerns and those spreading hatred between the two major faiths in Nigeria.

 

“Sadly, the tragic event in Sokoto is another reminder of how fragile peace can be without mutual respect and united leadership.

 

“We pray for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, for peace, for political stability and economic prosperity, combat the festering of Islamophobia amongst their followers, and prevent words and actions from the adherents of the Christian faith that are antithetical to the core teachings of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) which are based on piety, love, respect and tolerance.”

 

 

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