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Reprisals Media Bias Irks Nigeria Muslims

Published: 14/03/2012 09:18:13 PM GMT
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ABUJA - Nigerian Muslim leaders have lamented media silence on the killing of Muslim civilians in reprisal assaults following church attacks in Africa's most populous state.“This has been a terrible trend in our country,” (more)

ABUJA - Nigerian Muslim leaders have lamented media silence on the killing of Muslim civilians in reprisal assaults following church attacks in Africa's most populous state.

“This has been a terrible trend in our country,” Alhaji Liad Tella, a former editor and a serving commissioner at the Nigerian Hajj Commission, told OnIslam.net on Thursday, March 14.

“When Christians are attacked the media…will give it overwhelming coverage and alarmist headlines. They will echo the voice of the biased Christian leaders. Some even go as far as insinuating that such attacks were carried out by Muslims.

“But when Muslims are attacked it is treated as no news.”

He said media reporting in Nigeria is totally skewed against Muslims and their faith.

“I think it is time we confronted this bigotry and deliberate killing of stories of attacks against Muslims. It is a challenge for all of us to address it once and for all.”

At least 10 Muslims were killed by Christians in reprisal attacks after a suicide bomber hit a church in the central city of Jos.

Christian youths also tried to burn a mosque at the Mai-Adiko area close to the attacked church.

White the church attack dominated headlines in the country, the killings of Muslim civilians were totally absent in the news.

“It is unfortunate that the 'Conscience of the Society' is not doing justice to unbiased and balanced reporting of event,” Imam Abdullahi Shuaib, coordinator of the Conference of Islamic Organizations (CIO), told OnIslam.net.

“This has been seriously responsible for the barbaric and senseless killings we are witnessing across the geopolitical zones of the country.”

Prof. LakinAkintola, Director of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), was also infuriated by the media bias.

“This raises a question: are those innocent souls killed in reprisals less human beings than those killed in the bomb attacks?

“If we answer this question correctly we will begin to see why our society is sinking deep and deep into violence and senseless killings.

“As for the media, my humble advice to them is to stop their discriminatory report because our country will be worse for it.”

Islamist sect Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a wave of bomb attacks on churches across Nigeria since Christmas Day.

The bombing campaign has raised fears that the group is trying to ignite sectarian conflict in Africa's most populous country, split roughly evenly between Christians and Muslims.

In the past decade Jos has become the main flashpoint for tensions between Nigeria's Christian and Muslim communities.

Fueling Conflict

Christian journalists agree that the media reporting is biased on Muslims.

“We can only hope that our colleagues rid themselves of this bias because it can only worsen our situation,”Adetutu Folashade-Koyi, a senior Christian journalist, told OnIslam.net.

“When the other side views you with suspicion then you are finished. That is the situation with us now. As a journalist i have always questioned the style of reporting of this crisis.”

Muslim leaders warn that the media double standards in dealing with developments in Nigeria help fuel sectarian tension in the country.

“You don't build a harmonious society that way,” Tella, the commissioner at the Nigerian Hajj Commission, said.

“The danger in this attitude is that ultimately the media is not helping the society because if you keep quiet about violence being visited on any segment of the society, that segment will feel cheated and dead ready to defend itself. That has been the scenario in our country and I doubt anybody is taking note of this. Ultimately our society suffers for this double standard and injustice.”

CIO coordinator Shuaib called on religious leaders to avoid making inflammatory statements to help calm tension in Nigeria.

“There is no winner in the ongoing bombings and incessant killings,” he told OnIslam.net.

“We need to come together as one brotherhood to shame those who are bent on destroying Nigeria.

“Religious and political leaders must avoid unguarded statements or inflammatory comments that would heat up the sentiments of the masses. Remarks that would engender tolerance, accommodation and peaceful co-existence amongst our people should be promoted no matter the level of depravity, poverty and differences in our socio-economic and religious divide.”

Nigeria, one of the world's most religiously committed nations, is divided between a Muslim north and a Christian south.

Muslims and Christians, who constitute 55 and 40 percent of Nigeria's 140 million population respectively, have lived in peace for the most part.But ethnic and religious tensions have bubbled for years, fuelled by decades of resentment between indigenous groups, mostly Christian or animist, who are vying for control of fertile farmlands with migrants and settlers from the Hausa-speaking Muslim north.

Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net




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