Persecution of Muslims in China and India Reveals Important Facts About Religion and Geopolitics

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India, China and Myanmar are three Asian countries currently engrossed in carrying out physical and cultural genocides on their Muslim populations. While the plight of Rohingya Muslims and Uighur Muslims is well known, the recent introduction of a new law expressly aimed at dispossessing Muslims of Indian citizenship has alerted many to the reality that India’s ruling BJP government sees itself as Hindu first and foremost.

Questions such as “Why aren’t the rich Arab countries saying anything?” have come up, with the implicit inference that Muslim-dominated countries are supposed to stick up for Muslims everywhere in the world. Others have pointed out that despite suffering oppression in some parts of the world, Muslims are also responsible for brutal acts of oppression against other minority groups elsewhere, which allegedly negates the sufferings of the prior group.

In this article, I will pick through these questions and viewpoints with a goal of isolating some useful truths about how religion, geopolitics and human nature constantly interplay and produce much of the world around us.

Oppression is a Matter of Perspective

Which religion is the most oppressed? I like to troll my Christian friends with the image below whenever the topic comes up about some religion or the other allegedly imposing its will at their expense.

The truth is however, that this image could apply to just about every religion on earth. As a general rule of thumb, the only limiting factor on whether or not a religion functions as an oppressive tyranny in a particular jurisdiction is the proportion of the population that practises it there. Similarly, the only thing stopping any religion from being an oppressed and downtrodden identity is whether it is a small enough minority for that to be possible.

While Muslims in India, Myanmar and China are going through untold degrees of horror because of their religious identities, Muslims in places like Bangladesh, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Malaysia and Northern Nigeria are simultaneously visiting very similar horrors on Bah’ai, Shia Muslims, Christians, Budhists and other minorities in those areas. It turns out that the mere fact of belonging to a religious identity does not in fact, confer unrestricted global victimhood.

This point is important because it disproves the notion held by every major religion that its adherents follow a single set of standards and do things in the manner of a global “brotherhood.” In reality, Islam according to a Rohingya Muslim hiding from the Burmese military, and the same religion according to an itinerant herder in Kogi State bear almost no similarity to each other save for the most basic tenets. Environmental factors in fact have a bigger influence on how religions are practised than their own holy books. 

The current antics of India’s ruling BJP and its Hindu fundamentalist support base provide an important case in point as to how this works. Looking at the evolution of Hinduism from a passive philosophy into an openly militant ideology gives an important insight into how religion is in fact, a thoroughly contrived and amorphous set of ideas that can be changed, adjusted, aligned and revised at a moment’s notice in justification of anything at all. 

Hinduism traditionally sees itself as a religion of thoughtful, considered spirituality as against the angry dogmas of its Abrahamic neighbours, but something interesting is happening. Some argue that it started in the days of Gandhi, and some ascribe it to current Prime Minister Nanendra Modi, but whoever started it is a side note. The key point to note is that based on political factors, i.e anticolonial senitment against the British and anti-Muslim sentiment fueled by India’s national rivalry with Pakistan, Hinduism has somehow been coopted into the narrative of a jingoistic, monotheistic, mono-ethnic state which is  historical nonsense.

India has always been a pointedly pluralistic society, and in fact the geographical area now known as “India” does not even cover the geographical area of the India of antiquity. That India was a place of Hindus, Budhists, Muslims, Zoroastrians and everything in between. Hinduism never saw a problem with pluralism because Hinduism itself is a very plural religion – it has at least 13 major deities. The conversion of the Hindu identity into a political identity movement is a recent and contrived phenomenon first exploited by Gandhi as a means of opposing British colonialism, and now by Modi to oppose the Pakistanis/Muslims – it is a historical falsity.

The creation of Hindu fundamentalist movements like the RSS (which PM Modi belongs to) is something done in response to environmental factors. Spectacles like the RSS march below are evidence of yet another religion undergoing constant and ongoing evolution into whatever suits its purposes.

Something similar happened when medieval Europe turned into colonial Europe and European Christianity transitioned into a peaceful and pacifist ideology after centuries of being a bloodthirsty doctrine. The environmental factors that created the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, book burnings and witch hunts went away with the introduction of an industrial society, and thus the religion too transitioned.

In plain English, what all this means is that nobody actually practises a religion in the pure sense they imagine they do. Everyone who subscribes to a religion merely practises a version of it that is subject to the culture and circumstances of their environment and era. This is directly connected to the next major insight raised by these events.

Geopolitics is all About Self-Interest…Everyone Gets it Except Africa

While anti-Muslim violence has continued apace for years in China, Mynammar and India, the question has often been asked: “Why are the wealthy Arab nations not saying anything?” There is a perception that since the Arabian peninsula is the birthplace of Islam and Arabs – particularly Saudis – are viewed as the global gatekeepers of the faith, they must be at the forefront of promoting the interests of Muslims worldwide.

To many, the fabulous wealth and international influence that Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and the UAE enjoy, in addition to the presence of two of Islam’s holiest cities – Mecca and Meddinah – in Saudi Arabia, means that they have a responsibility to speak for the global Muslim Ummah and stand up for them when they are unfairly targeted and mistreated. Unfortunately for such people, the wealthy nations of the Arab Gulf region tend to respond to such questions with little more than an irritated silence – and with good reason.

To begin with, these countries are not democracies led by the wishes of their almost uniformly Muslim populations. They are autocracies led by royal families who came to power in the colonially-influenced 20th century scramble for power and influence. Saudi Arabia, which houses Islam’s holiest sites, is named after the House of Saud, its royal family which came into power in its current form at the turn of the 19th century. The priority of the regimes in these countries first and foremost is self-preservation.

Self-preservation means that before throwing their significant diplomatic and economic weight behind any attempt to help out fellow Muslims, the first consideration is how doing so will benefit them. India for example, is a country that has close diplomatic ties with the UAE, and supplies most of their cheap labour for construction and low-skilled functions. India has even coordinated with UAE special forces to repatriate the dissident Princess Latika when she made an audacious escape attempt in 2018.

What does the UAE stand to gain if it napalms its diplomatic relationship with India by criticising Modi’s blatantly anti-Muslim policy direction? It might win a few brownie points with Islamic hardliners and possibly buy some goodwill among poor Muslims in South Asia, but how much is that worth? The regime and nation’s self-interest is best served by looking the other way, so that is exactly what they will do.

The Saudis make a similar calculation. At a time when they are investing heavily in military hardware to keep up with their eternal rivals Turkey and Iran, and simultaneously preparing for the end of oil by liberalising their society and economy, does it pay them to jump into an issue in India that does not particularly affect them? As the status of their diplomatic relationship with the U.S. remains unclear following the Jamal Khasshoggi incident, are they going to risk pissing off the Chinese because of Uighur Muslims?

In fact self-interest like that mentioned here is the basis of the considerations that underpin all international relations. Well I say “all,” but what I really meant to say was “all except African countries.” It is only African countries that take diplomatic decisions based on little more than flimsy emotions and feelings of religious affinity. Gambia for example, has dragged Myanmar before the UN and filed a genocide case against it on behalf of the Rohingya Muslims.

This would be commendable and great were it not that Gambia itself is hardly a human rights luminary, and generally has little business fighting an Asian battle when its own worse African battles lie unfought. The only thing Gambia stands to gain from fighting a diplomatic war that the rest of the world seems unwilling to touch is the temporary goodwill of a few Muslims in Asia and around the world – goodwill that cannot translate into something tangible for it.

To coin an aphorism from social media lingo, you could call it ”diplomatic clout chasing.’

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El-Zakzaky’s Shiites Group Attends Church Service, Presents Gift On Christmas Day

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Members of Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), popularly called Shiites on Wednesday attended a Christmas Church service in some parts of northern Nigeria.

At different Church of the Advent, Samaru, Zaria, shortly after the service, the leader of the team, Prof. Isa Hassan-Mshelgaru said the essence of attending the service was to promote love, tolerance and understanding among Nigerians.

The service was conducted at the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion, Diocese of Zaria, Church of the Advent, Samaru, Kaduna State.

We came to celebrate Christmas with fellow Christians here because we consider them as our brothers, and we don’t have anything to give them than to come and celebrate this day with them.

“As they consider this day very important, we also consider it very important, we feel that we should come and visit them so that to clear some unnecessary imaginary boundaries that have been created.

“There are some imaginary boundaries that could not be seen that kept us far away from each other, so, we want to breach this gap, so that we come together as brothers and sisters living in the same country and same locality,” he said.

Hassan-Mshelgaru appealed to other Nigerians, whether Muslims, Christians or traditionalists to shun all forms of hatred, saying that religion was not all about hate but a means of bonding people together.

You can be a Muslim, a Christian or a Traditionalist, always bear in mind that religion should be a platform for bringing people together not separating them.

“So, my appeal is that Nigerians should come together under the same umbrella as we live in the same country to ensure united and formidable country envy of other nations,” he said.
The Vica of the Church, Rev. Isuwa Sa’idu expressed appreciation for the visit and urged the visitors to sustain the tempo for the good of the nation.

“In fact, I am so excited that they can think of a thing like this to come and visit us on Christmas Day celebration like this.

“When we first got the news of their coming, I was just so overwhelmed and I said I can’t wait for that day to come, here am beheld the day has come, the visit had really gladdened our hearts,” he said.

According to him, the visit shows that Nigerians are looking for peace, and they are actually pursuing it and not just pursuing it with words but with action.

So, their action of rising to come to visit us has shown that truly we have found that peace.
“Because Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace and if everybody will behave like our friends and brothers, the Muslim Brothers, I don’t think we will have problems in this country.

“ Is just share of a misunderstanding of what we are and who we are and where we represent that we lack peace today, we can never stay part from each other, we must and under must live together.

“Here I am in Samaru, I come from Southern Kaduna, some of our friends come from the East and some of you who are Northerners are also living in other parts of Nigeria, if there is no peace how do we live like that?” he asked.

He observed that the occasion had opened a door for people to know that Nigerians have a brighter opportunity to live peacefully with one another.

Sa’idu said that attending Church service by Muslims was not unusual in other countries, saying that in other countries Muslims, Christians other religious groups do their celebrations together.

I pray this has broken the jinx that we can begin to live together, Muslims attend Christian functions, Christians attend Muslim functions like that we will be happy.

“My message to Nigerians is that let’s copy what these brothers and sisters have done and truly this visit has encouraged me that I have a friend in you, in this man and all of you.

“This implies that I can go to this person, I can go to that person and I will tell my problems and you can attend to me, if we learn to do this, I tell you in the next 10, 20 years, there will be no religious fight.

“Those who ignite crisis for their selfish aims, and they leave us to kill and destroy one another but now that we are here for peace we all love one another,” he said.

Naija News observed that the group members in other states paid similar visits as they presented gifts to the Churches as a sign of love.

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Muslims attend church service in Kaduna to celebrate Christmas – TODAY

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Pastor Yohanna Buru, the General Overseer of Christ Evangelical and Life Intercessory Ministry Sabon Tasha-Kaduna, on Wednesday expressed delight at the large turnout of Muslims to celebrate Christmas with Christians in Kaduna.

Buru said: “I am so delighted that a large number Muslims that came to celebrate this year’s Christmas morning service with us.

“This will boost interfaith activities, promote religious tolerance and better understanding among different faith based organizations in the state and the northern region,” Buru said in an interview with reporters.

Buru expressed gratitude to what he described as “astonishing turn out of Muslim youth including their scholars at the church for Christmas service with such a large numbers of women Muslims and children, youth to promote peace and unity.

“The number of Muslims coming to attend Christmas service with us is increasing year-by-year as a result of better understanding and religious tolerance.”

Buru said : “it was really unbelievable to have such a large numbers of Muslims youth, top Islamic scholars, traditional title holders and various associations of peace promoting organizations from the 19 northern states to join us in this prayers, this is a clear fact that Nigerians can really be their brothers keepers.”

Earlier in his Sermon, Buru stressed the importance of promoting peaceful coexistence amongst different faith in Africa so as to strengthen peace and harmony.

He added that: “we must remember that we are from one family, because Adams and Eve were our original Biological parents. We all have that in our holy scriptures, the Bible and Qur’an.

“And we also believe in paradise and hell fire, therefore, we must be our brothers keepers, to live in peace and harmony.

“We are using the Christmas season to unite Muslims and Christians and to promote better understanding among different faith based organizations.

“I’m pleading with Muslims and Christians across the globe to use the season in promoting peace and unity and to forgive one another, so as to live in peace.

“Annually, hundreds of muslims usually come from parts of northern Nigeria to join us in christmas celebration.

“We are happy that large number of muslims from various places have again come and joined us in celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.”

Responding on behalf of the muslim delegation from Funtua, Katsina state, Mallam Murtala Marafa, said ” we are really happy to be in your midst today because we came with other muslims from Kano, Sotoko and Zamfara to join in celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ,

“All muslims all over the world believe in Jesus Christ. We donated our offering like other Christians to promote peace and unity.

“It’s a season of peace and unity, so we are here to spread the message of peace and unity in the country,” he said.

Marafa said” we are Nigerians and we must join hands toward making this country great and as muslims, we must promote peace and unity, we must join hands toward making Nigeria a better place.

“Nigeria is a great country, lets join hands in praying for peace and unity for our country to prosper,” Marafa added.

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Nigerian officials search for families of freed male captives

Police register hundreds of men and boys found in Kaduna school bearing signs of abuse

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Nigerian authorities have been scrambling to find the families of hundreds of boys and men freed from a school where some had been kept in chains, sexually abused and tortured.

Police freed as many as 400 captives, aged from six to 50, from the house in Kaduna, northern Nigeria, in a raid on Thursday. Some were chained to radiators, tyres or hub caps and others bore visible signs of scars from being whipped and beaten.

More than a dozen, including 10 children, were taken to hospital on Saturday. All the adults were in critical condition, with one vomiting blood.

Police set up a makeshift camp for the others on the outskirts of the city and were registering them on a list.

Outside, dozens of parents gathered to collect their children. Some had paid tuition fees to the men running the house believing it to be an Islamic school, while others viewed it as a correctional facility with no expectation of instruction.

The Kaduna state police spokesman Yakubu Sabo said the dehumanised treatment they found made it impossible to consider the house an Islamic school.

Local media said some of the children had been tortured, starved and sexually abused. Reuters was unable to immediately verify the reports.

Hafsat Mohammed Baba, the states commissioner of human services and social development, said a headcount had accounted for just 190 people, including 113 adults and 77 children. The reason for the discrepancy in numbers was not immediately clear, but authorities said some of those who were freed had fled immediately.

Police raided the school after a relative was denied access to the captives. Seven people who said they were teachers at the school were arrested during the operation.

Police called on families from across the region, including the nearby countries of Ghana, Mali and Burkina Faso, to collect the freed captives. However, some of the boys were reluctant to return home with their families.

Mohammed Sani Abu Shaaban, a father of 13 from the Kaduna suburb of Nasarawa, sent his sons Salim, 16, and Jamilu, 25, to the school for more than three years.

He paid 34,000 naira (76) a term and said it had helped his sons, particularly Salim. Now that they are set free, he may relapse into his past negative attitude of absconding from school and other vices, Shaaban said.

Islamic schools, known as Almajiris, are common across the mostly Muslim north of Nigeria. Widespread poverty prompts many parents to leave their children at the institutions, but they have been dogged by reports of abuse and accusations that some children are forced to beg on the streets rather than get an education.

Some activists have called on the government to outlaw the schools.

But Shaaban, who said he visited regularly and never saw signs of poor treatment, called on the state to keep the Kaduna school open. The closure of the school is really a source of concern and very disturbing to us who have unruly children and wards, he said.

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