World Bulletin / News Desk
The most prominent umbrella body of Nigerian Muslims has accused the government of President Goodluck Jonathan of "systematic cleansing of Muslims" from key positions of authority and lamented "religious" discriminations against Muslims in Africa's most populous country.
"The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) is concerned over the disturbing trend of marginalizing Muslims in key appointments in federal government institutions," NSCIA spokesmen Mohamed Qasim said in a statement obtained by Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.
"Data available to the Council indicate a systematic cleansing of Muslims from key positions of authority," he added.
"This is dangerous for a nation which should encourage harmony and unity based on equity, justice and respect for diversity and pluralism."
Qasim told AA that the statement emerged from the NSCIA 's expanded general purpose committee meeting attended by prominent Muslim scholars and leaders from across the country.
He asserted that no Muslim is appointed cabinet minister from the entire southern region, including in the southwest where Muslims are said to constitute the bulk of the population.
There are 17 states in the south region, each having at least a cabinet minister.
The North has 19 states but appreciable numbers of cabinet ministers from the region are Christians.
"Council also notes that admission into key military institutions such as NDA and patterns of recruitment into police and other security agencies do not show sensitivity to balance and social indices such as faith," said NSCIA.
"Muslims who are qualified should be admitted and trained on a scale that shows respect for a multi-religious nation such as Nigeria," it added.
No official figure exists for Muslim-Christian population in Nigeria because religion and ethnicity were never used as criteria in previous censuses.
But independent pollsters, including the US-based Pew Review, suggest Muslims constitute at least 50 percent of Nigeria's estimated population of 175 million. Christians dispute the figures.
The NSCIA, the most prominent and perhaps the only Muslim body the government recognizes and consults on Islamic matters, also claimed religious discrimination against Nigerian Muslims.
"The Constitution guarantees to every Nigerian the freedom of worship and religious practice," it stressed.
"Appropriate Muslim dressing for women in all public engagements and outings is a mandatory requirement for Muslims," added the Muslim body.
"Governments and other institutions which deny Muslim females their right to dress appropriately such as wearing of hijab with uniforms are therefore in violation of the rights of the Nigerian Muslims," the NSCIA charged.
"Council calls on the Federal and State Governments and all other private and public institutions to stop the policy of depriving Muslim women of their rights to dress in accordance with the demands of their faith."
The NSCIA also lampooned a government agency responsible for reviewing school curriculum for what the Muslim body called its decision to deprive Nigerians of their rights to receive full and mandatory religious education.
"This is a major failing by all governments and is unacceptable," it stressed.
"All Nigerian children must be availed full opportunities to receive religious instruction and training until at least the end of Senior Secondary School," added the Muslim body.
It demanded a review of the new curriculum by the National Educational Research and Development Council which relegates Islamic and Christian religious studies to a part of a subject up to Junior Secondary School and makes them optional at the Senior Secondary level.
"The two [Islamic and Christian religious studies] should be made independent, core and compulsory up to the Senior Secondary level," NSCIA demanded.
Anadolu Agency tried to contact presidential spokesman Reuben Abati for comment on the NSCIA allegations.
Abati neither responded to calls nor text messages.Last Mod: 20 Kasım 2013, 12:40