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National Conference: Islamic group attacks Pastor Bakare over criticism of Justice Kutigi’s Islamic prayer

National Conference in plenary

A rights group, the Muslim Rights Concern, MURIC, has lashed out at  fiery Lagos pastor, Tunde Bakare, over his comment on the floor of the National Conference Tuesday that Chairman Idris Kutigi should refrain from starting his speeches with a short Arabic phrase seeking Allah’s guidance.

The group also accused the Presidency of having deliberately manipulated the delegates list from the South-west geopolitical zone to marginalize Muslims from the region.

Mr. Bakare had, at the first plenary of the Conference, drawn attention to the short Arabic phrase that preceded Justice Kutigi’s speech as he called the Conference to session.

The  clergyman then called for a uniformed prayer at all meetings of the Conference.

“Mr. Chairman, yesterday you said something at the inauguration of the Conference and I did not understand,” Mr. Bakare said. “Today again, you said it. I think you should pray in the way all of us understand because if I stand up and say, ‘Praise the Lord somebody,’ we will turn this place into a church service.”

But in a statement Thursday morning, MURIC said Mr. Bakare’s “attack” on Justice Kutigi was a premeditated demonstration of his hatred for Muslims and Islam.

The group said, “Tunde Bakare’s attack is rather unfortunate. His criticism arose from premeditation. It is known all over the world that individual Muslims start speeches with a short Arabic phrase in which they seek Allah’s guidance in their utterances and Justice Kutigi did not do more than that. MURIC affirms clearly, unequivocally and unambiguously that the revered jurist has every right to do this.

“Tunde Bakare’s outburst was therefore a manifestation of pathological hatred for Muslims and their faith. “His behavior smirked of a gross lack of tolerance for the faith of others and portrays the pastor as an enforcer. Attempting to stop the chairman from using his faith to guide him is an encroachment on the latter’s Allah-given and fundamental human right.”

MURIC however advised Muslim delegates at the conference not to be provoked by Mr. Bakare’s criticism of Justice Kutigi.

It said, “MURIC appeals to Muslim delegates in the conference not to pay the pastor back in his own coins

“MURIC expects Pastor Tunde Bakare to understand that a conference of this magnitude requires, first and foremost, mutual respect, understanding and tolerance of the highest order; not suspicion, rancour and ill-feeling,” the group said. “Delegates need to guard their tongues and watch their language because a rancorous body language emerging from the national conference is capable of sending this country up in flames.

“Tunde Bakare has stirred the hornet’s nest by firing the first salvo. His request that religion should not be brought into the national conference is unrealistic, deceitful and hypocritical.Nigerians are religious people and this should reflect in our deliberations unless we want to deceive ourselves.

“The colonialists themselves bequeathed to us a controversial religious setting which must be discussed and reviewed at this conference. The status quo is chaotic. It must change. It must be done today, not tomorrow. This is the right time to address issues objectively. It is not the time for sentimentalities.

Read full statement below. 

PRESS RELEASE:

ISLAMOPHOBIA AT NATIONAL CONFERENCE & MANIPULATION OF DELEGATES LIST: DANGEROUS SIGNPOSTS

The National Conference kicked off successfully in Abuja on Monday, 17th March, 2014. Unfortunately, it resumed the next day on a controversial note. Pastor Tunde Bakare, a South-West delegate, criticized the conference Chairman, Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi, for starting his speech with a prayer in Arabic.

Tunde Bakare’s attack is rather unfortunate. His criticism arose from premeditation. It is known all over the world that individual Muslims start speeches with a short Arabic phrase in which they seek Allah’s guidance in their utterances and Justice Kutigi did not do more than that. MURIC affirms clearly, unequivocally and unambiguously that the revered jurist has every right to do this.

Tunde Bakare’s outburst was therefore a manifestation of pathological hatred for Muslims and their faith. His behavior smirked of a gross lack of tolerance for the faith of others and portrays the pastor as an enforcer. Attempting to stop the chairman from using his faith to guide him is an encroachment on the latter’s Allah-given and fundamental human right.

MURIC expects Pastor Tunde Bakare to understand that a conference of this magnitude requires, first and foremost, mutual respect, understanding and tolerance of the highest order; not suspicion, rancour and ill-feeling. Delegates need to guard their tongues and watch their language because a rancorous body language emerging from the national conference is capable of sending this country up in flames.

Tunde Bakare has stirred the hornet’s nest by firing the first salvo. His request that religion should not be brought into the national conference is unrealistic, deceitful and hypocritical.Nigerians are religious people and this should reflect in our deliberations unless we want to deceive ourselves. The colonialists themselves bequeathed to us a controversial religious setting which must be discussed and reviewed at this conference. The status quo is chaotic. It must change. It must be done today, not tomorrow. This is the right time to address issues objectively. It is not the time for sentimentalities.

However, MURIC appeals to Muslim delegates in the conference not to pay the pastor back in his own coins. We reject the list of delegates as it stands and we advise the presidency to exhibit true patriotism, political maturity and compliance with democratic norms by reviewing the delegates list which has been massively tilted to favour Christians in the country.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is not unaware that the list of South-West delegates was deliberately drawn to marginalize Muslims who form majority of the zone’s population. We strongly suspect that such delegates are meant to serve as arrow-head in a plot to launch attacks on Muslim personalities and frustrate ideas proposed by Muslims at the conference. The same trend has been noticed in many parts of the country.

We urge the presidency to attend to the protest letter submitted by the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs on this matter in order to ensure cohesion in the conduct of the ongoing national conference. We warn that the manipulation of delegates list by the presidency is a dangerous signpost.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,

Director,

Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)

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