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    Still on Extremism and Irresponsibility versus Isioma Daniel. In response to Dauda S. Dauda's rejoinder, "The Comprehensive Dummies' Guide to Responsibility in Writing"

    (Saturday, December 14, 2002)

    By Samuel Onipede, Ph.D.

    Intellectual freedom is essential to human society; freedom of thought is the only guarantee against an infection of people by myths, which in the hands of hypocrites and demagogues can be transformed into bloody dictatorships.

    Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov (Progress, coexistence and intellectual freedom, 1968)

    Dear Dr Dauda Suleiman Dauda,

    It is with maturity and sense of responsibility I am responding to your discourteous riposte to my article "Extremism and Irresponsibility versus Isioma Daniel" I am truly shocked but not surprised by your diatribe on my person and the disparaging manner in which you composed your said rejoinder. You appeared to be violently angry at what I had to say and that makes me wonder on the difference between you and those fanatical Almajiris in Kaduna and Abuja who wrecked havoc in the name of Islam just to remonstrate their ill feelings on the freedom of expression as exhibited by Isioma Daniel. You particularly highlighted the points of "One commentator, Banjo Odutola, a London-based lawyer in an essay titled Isioma Daniel should be hanged" whose article seems to meet your approval just because "he used about two hundred invectives to let us know, in clear terms, where he stood on her article"(sic). However, you cannot serve two gods, it takes valor to express the truth as it's astringent and unpalatable. Mr Odutola by using "two hundred invectives" and at the same time defending Isioma's right to freedom of expression was wooly as far as I am concerned. I do not know since when has using invectives to disapprove of other's expression gone into vogue.

    In your apparent frustration, you cast aspersion on my English writing ability by likening my writings to that of a secondary school dropout, as feeblemindedly as that might sound, I am not bothered in the least because I understood your frustration and I am sympathetic with you. One of your sources of annoyance was your claim that I defended Obasanjo even when he did not deserve such defense by blaming mischief-makers on the escalation of this latest mass bump off of innocent Nigerians. However, the riot that sprang off immediately after the Jumaat prayer in Abuja is the testimony to my claim on political undercurrent of the disgraceful demonstration in this town and I still stand corrected.

    You veered off course when you commented thus "The article authored by one Dr Samuel Onipede "Extremism and Irresponsibility versus Isioma Daniel" makes one to really give second thoughts to the jocular notion that the "Ph.D." accompanying the names of some people really stands for "permanent head damage". As much as this might be true, just like the MD that accompanies yours, stands for "Manipulative Deception" You apparently have not been in the real world yet, I am sure you are still a student and not a practicing physician as I am conversant with your environment and I know that your going by the name of MD does not truly mean you have attained such, your sojourn in Ternapol says volume in contrary to such averment, nevertheless decency demands that you exhibit some demureness when you are engaged in a discourse with someone you know not.

    I have involved myself since my student days to the course of the oppressed and any form of irresponsibility in whatever sphere of our nationhood. To this end, it was to my high merit the formation of the current Association of Nigerian Scholarship Students in Russia in 1988, after the collapse of the moribund Nigerian Students Union of the Soviet era, with a colleague Dr Danladi Ibrahim Dada Kuta who is now a researcher at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan. I have fought the course of better studies environment, which you enjoyed or are still now enjoying in Ukraine or wherever you are even though neither Danladi nor I partook in the boon as a result of graduation before the manifestation of the goodies form these struggles. The doggedness in this struggle led to my being summoned and admonished by the embassy of Nigeria in Moscow. You, Dr Dauda Suleiman Dauda were not conspicuous in this. Now, what can you lay claim to in a tangible form as your achievement in defending a just and unselfish course of your fellow citizens besides your tirades on the Internet promoting ethnic and religious jingoism? You were so encumbered by your rage to have slighted even my Alma Mater, what you failed to note is that you affronted the same system under which you are aspiring for your attainment of Doctorate in Medicine and I can't help but pity you because you are obviously ignorant.

    Back to Isioma Daniel and what you called slander in her article. The dictionary you quoted as defining Slander stated: n. 1. the act of saying something false or malicious that damages somebody's reputation.
    n. 2. false and malicious statement that damages somebody's reputation
    v. to make a false or malicious statement about somebody.

    Isioma Daniel in her article wondered whether prophet Mohammed (PUH) would have condemned the pageant's contestants or chose one of them as a wife. Now, let's see how slander in your own understanding fits into this. Prophet Mohammed Ibn Abdullah (PUH) 570 AD - 632 AD, before his death had 13 wives and I will endeavor to enumerate them according to seniority by marriage to the prophet and their ages at marriage:

    Khadija bint Khouweylid, 40;
    Sauda bint Zama, 50;
    Aisha bint Abu Bakr, 9;
    Hafsa bint Umar bin Khattab, 22;
    Zainat bint Khuzaima 30;
    Umm-I-Salma bint Abu Umayyad, 26;
    Zainab bint Jahash, 38;
    Juwaeria bint Harith, 20;
    Umm-I-Habiba Abu Sufyan, 36;
    Marya Qibtiya bint Shamun 17, a virgin from Egypt;
    Safiya bint Hayi Bin Akhtab, 17;
    Raihana bint Umru Bin Hanafa, (age not available);
    Maimuna bin Harith, 36.

    Source: The prophet of Islam, the ideal husband by Sayed Abu Zafar Zain, Kazi publications, Lahore, 1st Ed., Pg. 10-12.

    Now, how would you know what the prophet could have done or could not have done as per the beauty contestants? Why should you have to take it on yourself to kill, maim and destroy on his behalf, just because you are fanatical? I am sure the prophet would not have approved of such mass murder in his name. Having said this, I remain resolute in my assertion that Isioma Daniel's article, which inexplicably had been the reason for the shameful acts of fanaticism, should not have generated such barbarity as displayed in the name of religion. Interestingly, while you, Dr D.S. Dauda hypocritically condemned the demonstration and it's attendant loss of lives, you continued to vilify the author, which invariably means you are in support of the psychoses displayed by the Almajiris because such condemnation had been the catalyst that helped spark off the madness in the first place. It is the views and comments of people like you that helped ensconce the justification for the fratricidal acts of those imbeciles. As things are, it will take only renaissance to reinvigorate the true spirit of Islam and make our Muhajideens and their Ulamas appreciate the true value of human life.

    There are writers and commentators who live to take pleasure in shocking the established beliefs of society in blatant and obscene manners that make Isioma Daniel pale in comparison, thus Kaduna and Abuja were not suppose to smolder if civility had been the catchphrase. There had been authors and writers who had written to malign Jesus Christ, the Christian world did not go berserk by killing or calling for the blood of the writers. One good example is Nicolas Kazantzakis who wrote the book, "The last temptation of Christ" in which he portrayed Jesus Christ giving into sexual desire with Mary Magdalene. If this were said against prophet Mohammad, what would have happened? How could a scatological piece of article drive me to such extreme to start cutting heads off my perceived or real enemies? My personal convictions and philosophies are thought out thoroughly enough so that no image or collection of words, no matter how scandalous or blasphemous will drive me to murder. This seems so elementary I feel almost embarrassed to say it out loud. I cannot understand why our own Muslims cannot do the same with Isioma's article. If you find it objectionable, ignore it. Let your silence serve as contempt if you must; but to let an article move you to violence is to show yourself weak and the author's piece strong. Come to think of it. If Islam comes across poorly in the media or in people's perception, Muslims who kill, maim, render people homeless and put prices on the heads of authors for "blasphemy" have much to do with that.

    However, the purpose of this article is not religion and I will like to keep it out of it as much as I can. The major objective is about respecting the rights of every individual to express himself or herself, no matter how lamely. This is about the inefficacy of censorship and the importance of pursuing truth by means of words and reason instead of violence. You of all people ought to know better, the environment you live denies you an unfettered freedom as guaranteed in the United Nation's Universal Declaration on Human Rights that includes, freedom of movement and expression, you know quite well Dr Dauda, that you are almost being daily subjected to intimidation by the so called skin-heads just for the reason of your race, who though only beat and maim but still have not graduated to the higher satanic realm of killing their victims like the people you tend to defend. Have you ever justified their (the Skin-heads') actions in any way or you tend to condemn them just because you were or are a potential victim? Though, I do understand that what I am talking about is such a difficult task for the feeble minds, unless you are willing to be honest with yourself and by this. Is your defense of the Ulamas based on the text from the Quor'an that admonishes them to encourage their followers to kill and loot the properties of those perceived as Kaffir, where it states thus?

    Oh prophet! Exhort the believers to fight. If there be of you twenty steadfast, they shall overcome two hundreds, and if there be of you hundred steadfast, they shall overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because they (the unbelievers) are a folk without intelligence.

    Qur'an VIII: 65.

    You were quick to exonerate these Ulamas and painted a picture of holiness and infallibility out of them. Who among the so-called clerics had come out to condemn the senseless slaughter of the innocents who were massacred in the broad daylight? I am yet to read or hear of such. As much as you are free to defend your religious beliefs, you ought not to allow your sense of rationality in the process be beclouded by such fanatical and apparently ethnic chauvinism. I am sure you have read about the arrest of the Secretary General of the Supreme Council on Sharia on his alleged culpability in the mayhem. Am I now justified when I accused them? To be objective and rational in a case like this, it requires a subtlety and sophistication of thoughts, which blinkered and emotionally challenged people, are incapable of.

    You might be right that death is decreed for blasphemers of the faith, regardless your satirical criticism of the fatwa declared on this poor lady, but if that were so, I think it a fairly stupid policy, be it of whatever origin. I am aware that many Christians have burned to death other Christians in the name of a Christ who came bearing a message of love and peace, but such is widely viewed today in Christianity as execrable in the extreme. Where will it end? Maybe all this has something to do with why the geography of the Islamic countries is punctuated with impoverished people groaning under the weight of despots, feared religious police, and economies dependent on humanitarian aid.

    If the Ulamas and their gullible followers do not desire the presence of the so called infidels any more, the best alternative might be to hermetically seal the northern states from the rest of us unbelievers. That way, there would not be any further bloodshed and the attendant disgrace they bring on the nation and the rest of us. The founder of this house of chaos, governor Sanni Yarima and his fellow fundamentalists have been carrying on as if their vision of fundamentalism and radicalism can offer a workable solution in solving all questions of morality, identity, and faith in their Islamic North, so far they have had very little luck curing the ailment of social injustice, economic repression, illiteracy, backwardness and poverty among their subjects. The action of these Mullahs through the fatwa overenthusiastically proclaimed on Isioma Daniel has shown clearly that they possess ersatz theosophical understandings of Islamic faith and the Quor'an.

    In conclusion I will like to advise you to please desist from personal attacks when composing your articles, to be discerning enough to always draw a line between motion and emotion, between curse and discourse. That way, we can all learn to appreciate the philosophy of disagreement to agree.

    Freedom of religion, freedom of the press and freedom of person under the protection of habeas corpus and trial by juries impartially selected. These principles form the bright constellation, which has gone before us, and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation.

    Thomas Jefferson, U.S. President (1743-1826)

    Samuel Onipede, Ph.D.
    Charlotte, NC, U.S.A.

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