Statement of the Problem
“Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding”. Though we may not see it in our daily lives, religious intolerance is rampant in our world. Specifically, in the region of Xinjiang in China and Saudi Arabia. The Chinese government has reportedly detained more than a million Muslims in re-education camps, primarily composed of Uighurs. On the other hand, in Saudi Arabia, citizens do not have the right to practice their own religion. Non-Muslim propagation is banned, and conversion from Islam to another religion is punishable by death as apostasy. Nigeria too experiences significant violence and hate in the name of religion. Nigeria, the most populous African country is divided between adherents of Christianity and Islam.
Clashes between Nigerian Christians and Muslims have already killed hundreds of people this year alone. But the root causes go far beyond religion. Mismanagement, land disputes and the lack of aid for victims or punishment for troublemakers have all fueled tensions, especially in Nigeria’s “Middle Belt”, where the Muslim dominated north meets the Christian dominated south. Attacks by non-state militia such as Boko Haram that exploit these secular issues and revenge killings by Christian and Muslim gangs have reinforced the religious aspect of the violence.
In light of the growing animosity between Islam and Christianity, the Nigerian Government is backing the Islamic front. The inability of the Government to have a clear direction will further infuriate the Muslim gangs and non-state militia. If the government were not to regulate this belief system, the Muslim gangs would take it into their own hands and take lives in a gruesome manner. As mentioned above, the government faces corruption, mismanagement and has a weak justice system. By being admissible to all religions, the Government would lose support of the entire Islamic population, which constitutes 50 percent of the country’s population. Some Nigerian states even have courts that abide to Sharia law. Sharia law acts as a code of conduct for all aspects of a Muslim’s life. Sharia law is Islam’s legal system. It is derived from both the Koran and fatwas – the rulings of Islamic scholars; however, this choice is left completely up to the state government. Christians however, do not have to follow Sharia law. Nigeria persists in giving great importance to constructing all places of worship, be it Mosques or Churches. However, in totality, in order to preserve the sanctity of all religions and put these feuds to rest, supporting one side of the spectrum is essential.
1) Helping religious minorities facing oppression to find refuge in other countries, willing and capable to house them:
- Using the The World Bank Group Partnership Fund for the SDGs to help these minorities as religious freedom is part of the SDGs.
- Using the money from the fund to help transport these minorities to other countries as refugees.
- Developing countries will be willing to give refuge to the minorities. By providing them with the right to work, to health, and to education, refugees can start productive lives in their host countries. The faster they can integrate into the labor force, the faster they can become productive members of society.
- Transport will include boats, trains, trucks, cargo planes and other affordable modes of transportation.
2) The formation of an investigative and journalistic force called the Avengers of Minorities (AOM):
- The creation of a subdivision of the UNHRC called the United Nations Reformation Division (UNRD). It will comprise 12 members from the UNHRC. 6 of them will specialize in religious intolerance. 4 of them will be political analysts and the other 2 will be lawyers.
- The force will investigate cases of religious intolerance in various nations and report back to the UNRD.
- The UNRD will go through all the cases and select a few that need special attention. They will broadcast these cases on international media. This will put the spotlight on these particular nations and make sure they cannot get away with oppression.
- They will identify nations that need assistance to battle religious intolerance. This assistance will be in the form of expert advice from political analysts on how to handle the situation.
3) Seminars in various countries by a panel of UNHRC members of different religions:
- These seminars will be given mainly in countries with religious intolerance. The panel will explain the true meaning of religions that are widely misconceived. They will clear misconceptions about various religions and try to promote harmony.
- These seminars will be uploaded on all social media for the entire world to see it.
The hostility between the two sects is tearing Nigeria apart. The country needs to first stabilize its Government and rectify the chain of command. To quote the last paragraph of Nelson Mandela’s infamous speech, ‘I am Prepared to Die’, “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die”. This conflict may burn Nigeria to the ground, but from the ashes a new Nigeria will emerge.