21 December 2007

Nigeria: Minister Warns Against Religious Extremism

Lagos — The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Alhaji Tunji Ishola yesterday in Abeokuta warned against religious extremism.

The minister was reacting to the recent religious disturbance in Bauchi state. Responding to questions in a chat with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on how to put an end to such ugly incident, the minister, pleaded for greater respect for each other's belief.

He also called for total restraint, warning that "in as much as you do not expect people to trample on your religion, do not also trample on the religion of others."

According to him, "when people fight or engage in any act that is inimical to progress on account of religion, I do not know which religion they are preaching. This is because Islam itself is taking from the word Salaam, which means peace and Christianity preaches peace. "Whatever is our belief, we should not take it to the extreme or get fundamental about it," NAN quotes Ishola as saying. The Secretary-General, National Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Lateef Adegbite, also cautioned that the crisis in Bauchi, should not be exaggerated but be regarded as an isolated case .

He said that of recent, there had been better understanding between the Christians and the Muslims, expressing hope that the isolated disturbances would gradually fizzle out. "I have always cautioned that it is not every time that there is crisis that we should give it a religious label, it could be political, economic or social protest. "It may even be simple land dispute. But once few Muslims and Christians are involved, people tag it religious crisis and we must avoid it.

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