Rev. Patrick Sookhedo, the Guyana-born International Director of the Barnabus Fund and former Archbishop George Carey are two churchmen frequently finger-wagging Muslims for their ‘intolerance’ and ‘violence’, particularly in the African context:
1. ‘Christians form less than one percent of the population of the Muslim-majority country Niger. Experience in other countries shows that tiny Christian minorities like this tend to suffer disproportionately in any crisis’.
Source: Patrick Sookhedo on Niger, in www.barnabusfund.org
2. ‘However, wherever we look, Islam seems to be embroiled in conflict with other faiths and other cultures. It is in opposition to practically every other world religion- to Judaism in the Middle East; to Christianity in the West, in Nigeria, and in the Middle East; to Hinduism in India; to Buddhism, especially since the destruction of the Temples in Afghanistan. We are presented therefore with a huge puzzle concerning Islam. Why is it associated with violence throughout the world? Is extremism so ineluctably bound up with its faith that we are at last seeing its true character?’
Source: George Carey’s speech at the Gregorian University, Rome, March 2004
But, dear sirs, at a time of crisis in Africa, it is the Muslim conduct that is frequently exemplary! Time to reflect on the following facts on the terrible Rwandan genocide of the mid-90s:
1. There is wide recognition among both Muslims and non-Muslims in Rwanda that the vast majority of the Muslim community did not participate in the genocide, but rather acted positively, with many Hutu Muslims protecting Tutsi Muslims and non-Muslims. The President of Rwanda made a public statement in 1995 in recognition of the community’s positive behaviour, at a public ceremony celebrating the appointment of the first Muslim member of cabinet. He said that Muslims in Rwanda did not participate in the genocide, and called upon them to ‘teach other Rwandans how to live together’.
Source: Case study, Resistance and Protection: Muslim Community actions during the Rwandan Genocide. By Kristin Doughty and David Moussa Ntambara, May 2005.
2. ‘Before the genocide more than 60% of Rwandans were Catholic. And when the killings started, tens of thousands of Tutsis fled to churches for sanctuary. But they found little protection there. Churches became sites of slaughter, carried out even at the altar.. The Church hierarchy in Rwanda supported the previous regime of President Juvenal Habyarimana. And they failed to denounce ethnic hatred then being disseminated.’
Some survivors like Zafran have since left the Catholic Church, unable to reconcile the Church’s teaching with the actions of its most senior members during the genocide. Sheikh Saleh Habimana, the Mufti of Rwanda, is the representative of the country’s Muslims. He says many turned to Islam because Muslims were seen to have acted differently: The roofs of Muslim houses were full of non-Muslims hiding. Muslims are answerable before God for the blood of innocent people.But after the genocide, converting to Islam was also seen by some as the safest option. For the Hutus, everyone was saying as long as I look like a Muslim everybody will accept that I don’t have blood on my hands. And for the Tutsis they said let me embrace Islam because Muslims in genocide never die. So one was looking for purification, the other was looking for protection.
Source: BBC Report, Rwanda’s religious reflections, by Robert Walke, April 2004
Blogger observes: “We are treated as imposters, and yet are true.
(II Corinthians 6:8)