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The atheist, the peacemaker and the fathers of chaos

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Cartelopia By Aisha Yolah

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Cartelopians don't seem to care for history - or rather we have thrown our history into the streets, where any idiot can kick it about and deny that you have rights, are worth anything or even have the right to live. Some like to pretend (when it is convenient) that we are a secular federation. Does secularism on its own implicitly grant everyone equal rights? No. First of all its dominant variant, is coloured by an implicitly Western, 'Christian' tradition. That is why supposedly secular France only got round to banning the wearing of crucifixes (crosses) in schools, after it had first decided to ban hijabs.
Secularism by definition is really not neutral - it has its own set of beliefs and principles, which if imposed can appear oppressive. Common sense (which yes, is very uncommon) would indicate then that what matters really, is simply how you treat each other. Motive, method and means all matter in the question of religion or irreligion. As that famous saying of Sheikh Uthman Danfodio says - a nation can survive with unbelief, but not without justice. 
Take the virulent display of anger, including threats of violence against a school girl, Jessica Ahlquist by her Rhode Island (United States, US) community. Ahlquist is described as a 16 year-old Atheist who took the authorities of her school to court over the presence of a prayer banner or inscription on the school premises. She won her case. On January 11th, 2012 a judge ordered the prayer removed, citing the 1962 US Supreme Court ban on state prescribed prayer in schools. Not only was the prayer a violation of the Constitution, the judge also criticised school authorities for holding meetings which sometimes 'resembled religious revivals.'
Overkill, you might say considering the dominant Christian heritage in the US. Their currency even says 'in God we trust'. (Though that too had to be 'reaffirmed' by Congress as recently as last November!) When I read about the judge's worries that school meetings resembled revival meetings, I immediately understood. Living in 21st century Cartelopia, I know how Jessica Ahlquist must have felt at those meetings. Clearly, despite her youth, she is very opinionated, self-assured and committed to her convictions ('religion?').
The shoe is now on the other foot, it's her fellow students and teachers at Cranston High School who now feel 'oppressed', deprived of a probably beautiful prayer inscription. Obviously it might still have been there for the next century if only they had been more considerate with their school 'meetings'. As a Muslim, I might have had to contend with exactly the same 'oppression' in those meetings.  As a Muslim, I might even have won a similar suit. (Well, maybe twenty years ago, before the War on Terror). 
In 'Constitution -less' Cartelopia I would be unable to go to court, and would instead have the secularism card imposed on me to prevent the expression of anything significant that comes from my  older, Muslim (Eastern) part of our global heritage. It would be a double oppression - revivals and repression.
Consideration for others is an alien concept here. Lest I am misunderstood, it cuts across all our national religions. Revivals, preaching and sermonising is carried on everywhere, all the time without respect or basic courtesy for the feelings of others. And the lack of courtesy is visited on members of one's own religion as well as others. It is strange.
What I have been taught of Islam in particular, is that it frowns on infringing on personal rights and privacy of others - the tradition of the Prophet (SAWS) has no place for the loud blaring of endless hours of sermons at night, even during Ramadan. In fact great consideration was given to the fact that extra or superogeratory ibadat (worship) is a private matter, and also that the body must sleep.
We are taught- moderation and the middle path in everything. This could be a motto for the devout Muslim. Do not sleep too much or too little, do not eat too much or fast excessively. The rights of others, non-Muslims included, are considered important, an indication of the strength of our faith. Lawlessness is worse than unbelief. Thankfully, no Muslim cleric can possibly decide to extend the call to prayer beyond its one or two minutes, or legislate that the five daily prescribed prayers become ten. Thankfully.
But what is it that makes us so combative and prejudiced at the same time, able to take extreme, inconsiderate positions and even get violent about it? I consider that unlike most of our contemporaries in Africa or Asia, the dominant ideology projected by both our government and media is not a fairly neutral or benign accommodating one; it is actually a minority or extremist view. We refuse to acknowledge our collective national heritages, know little about non-Westernised, customs and prefer stereotypical discourse of even our economy. Resentment and hate thrive.
Admittedly a poor educational system has played a significant part in producing such loud- mouthed, insular grown-ups. Our lawlessness has led to poverty and deep misery. Some people have nothing to look forward to in the morning. (Apologies to Bill Clinton). And the other side of this horrible coin are the Boko Horror (BH). Deadly, insular grown-ups.
Such horror is not new. Deep, streams of hate have muddied our national life, now and again, maybe even before our independence from Britain in 1960. Statesmanship and farsightedness of leaders such as our 'founding fathers' generally helped to neutralise such strands, until some 'young, military officers' took it upon themselves to spill the blood of these same statesmen.
I confess, I will never understand how such monumental murders can ever be described as having been driven by idealism. What manner of idealism can ever justify the slaughter of a man of such unassuming, integrity and honour as Abubakar Tafawa Balewa?
I was not even born when it took place, but he thought of how this gentle soul met his end on that January 15th night in 1966, always brings tears to my eyes. Idealism? What kind of idealism is this that has no moral compass, that cannot distinguish good from evil? That is so stupendously self-righteous.
BH has been with us for a long time. Wanton, indiscriminate, violent, extrajudicial and unjustifiable murders - by young men who have arrogated to themselves the right to take human life. The beginning of our undoing.
There is an old British Broadcasting Corporation newsreel of an interview conducted with  Major Kaduna Nzeogwu after that 1966 coup. The black and white footage is sharp and clear and he appears so young it hurts to watch. His handsome, fresh faced youthfulness sits at odds with the import of his words as he almost perfunctorily describes how he killed Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, a man revered by millions but not him. It is chilling stuff. His teeth as he smiles, a beautiful smile, are as white as his perfectly buttoned white collar and his uniform, immaculate.
Today every outrage is claimed by an aptly named Abul Qaqa. The name has no meaning. He is judge, jury and executioner, indiscriminate, without compassion, without justice, without meaning. We are in a situation worse than unbelief. Abul Qaqa is truly the father of chaos, fitna.a

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