Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has faulted critics of the Bishop, Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Mathew Kukah, over his new year’s message, saying no part of the comment made by the cleric denigrated Buhari and Islam.
He said that calls by some extremists that the cleric should apologise or leave Sokoto were unacceptable, adding that the agitation for a preacher to leave a part of the country for simply exercising his right was laughable.
The playwright noted that such demand in any pluralistic society must be frowned at and rejected and that all avenues must be explored in ensuring that religious tolerance was entrenched in the country.
Through a statement released to newsmen on Monday, Soyinka noted that though he was not among the most religion besotted inhabitants of the globe, he had studied the transcript as reported in the media and found nothing in it that denigrates Islam.
According to Soyinka, the obvious issue, to summarize, is – double standards, lack of equitable dealing, adding that agreement or disagreement with Father Kukah’s position is demonstration of a nation’s badge of maturity, and should be read, quite obviously, as a continuation of that nagging, provocative discourse.
“One fails to understand why religion is being sprung centre stage as a legitimate extract from that New Year address. There is a deliberate, emotive displacement of central concern. It is calculated avoidance, diversionary, and thus, nationally unhealthy. Humans should not attempt to play ostrich.
“One of the ironic features of religionists is, one is forced to conclude, a need to be offended. It is as if religion cannot exist unless it is nourished with the broth of offence. This may be due to inbuilt insecurity, a fear that even the ascribed absolutes of faith may be founded on nothing more than idealistic human projections, not grounded in anything durable or immutable.
“Hence the over prickliness, aggressiveness, sometimes even bullying tendencies and imperious posturing. This leads to finding enemies where there are none. In certain social climates, it degenerates into inventing enmities in order to entrench theocratic power.
“In its own peculiar way, this is actually a rational proceeding. A perceived threat to a collectivity tends to rally even waverers round the flag. The core mission of faith custodians then becomes presenting religion as being constantly under siege. It all contributes to interpreting even utterances of no hostile intent as “enemy action.”
“There is a deliberate, emotive displacement of central concern. It is calculated avoidance, diversionary, and thus, nationally unhealthy. Humans should not attempt to play the ostrich,” the statement said.