Sheikh Ajah On Persecution Of Igbo Muslims: We Are Igbos Before Becoming Muslims

Sheikh Haroun Ajah, Vice President General, Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), has said Islam is a religion and Igbo/Hausa are ethnic groups. In an interview in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State capital, Ajah condemned the persecution of Igbo Muslims in the South-East. He said Igbo Christians in the SouthEast have refused to understand that Igbo Muslims in the North are not Hausas. “When they see an Igbo Muslim, they label him Hausa. They refuse to understand that Hausa is a tribe, Igbo is a tribe and Islam is a means of spiritual relationship with the Almighty. “They refuse to understand that we are Igbos, before becoming Muslims” He added that Igbo Muslims in the East have been marginalised and denied access to civil and political appointments. “Muslims don’t have access to the civil service. We don’t have access to political appointments, no access to anything that is being done by the government. If it were possible for us to be denied our daily bread, they would do that.” Women in hijab mocked in the East. Muslim women interviewed in Afikpo, Ebonyi, as well as Enugu, Abakaliki, Umuahia, Okigwe and Owerri, are called derogatory names such as ‘masquerades’ and ‘traitors’ when they are seen in hijabs publicly. Halima Musa Ani in Enugu recalled a public attack she suffered last year when she joined a queue. She said an attempt was made to remove her hijab. On many occasions, Muslim women have been referred to as ‘Boko Haram’ and ‘slaves’, as revealed in Afikpo. “Igbo Muslims are facing many challenges in the south east, even in the streets, especially the women, because we cannot go out without our hijab. “When you go out, you will be addressed as ‘Hausa.’ Even a small child will call you ‘Hausa, ’and begin to chant ‘Hausas are passing. Hausas are passing.’ It’s just like a song,” she said. Pressure leading to change of name Umar Musa Ani said a young Muslim woman in Enugu will prefer to change her name from Aisha to Asisko, or from Maryam to Mary Anne, because of pressure from the society. In a new twist to Hausa phobia, Igbo Muslims are accused by Igbo Christians of becoming Muslims, because they wish to gain material wealth from Hausa Muslims.

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