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On the Proposed Religious Regulation in Kaduna State and One Thing We are Not Talking About

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On the Proposed Religious Regulation in Kaduna State and One Thing We are Not Talking About

NEWISSUES, Abuja

By GIMBA KAKANDA

I support the effort to regulate religious activities in Kaduna State. I’ve been a loud advocate of such legislation, even at the time it’s dangerous to suggest such “blasphemous” social order. And I think this is the most perfect time for the legislation, now that the government still has goodwill and headed by morally advantaged politicians.

But I’m curious that in listing “Izala” and “Darika”, two religious groups built on conflicting interpretations of Sunni Islam to buttress a point, the bill does not include Islamic Movement in Nigeria, which is the umbrella group of the Shiites in Nigeria.

I read that and, at first, just shrugged, amused that, having denied the Shiites their basic human rights, we have moved on to erasing them even in official documents. I know it’s deliberate, but the inference I got, especially aware that the El-Zakzaky-led movement is also a religious group as old as JIBWIS (Izala), is a tacit renouncement of Shiism by an intolerant government.

I care less about how the Shiites worship, as long as we have an institution to check the excesses of every religious group. What should not be denied them are their civic and human rights. Privileging Izala and Darika, which also have a reputation for disorderly assemblies in big towns and cities, as done in the bill, is an irresponsible agenda in a democratic space.

Shiism has been in existence for about a millennium and a half, almost as old as the organised Islam itself. So, if a systemic and military repression is capable of erasing them, there wouldn’t have been a trace of them since the killing of Hussein.

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