Posted to the web March 2, 2004
- THOUSANDS of Nigerian followers of the Sufi branch of Islam
protested yesterday in Kano, and demanded the closure of the local
office of a London-based Muslim charity accused of sponsoring
The crowd marched on the Kano State Assembly, chanting "Allahu
Akbar" (God is great), to demand that the group, which promotes the
Wahhabi strain of Islam on behalf of wealthy Saudi donors, be banned.
"As a matter of urgency the state government should close the office
of Al-Muntada Al-Islami because of its active role in causing
religious unrest in all the nooks and crannies of the state," said
protest leader, Abduljabbar Nasiru Kabara, at the head of a 5,000-
Alhaji Balarabe Gani, speaker of the state legislature, received the
protesters and promised to look into their complaints. The protest
Most Muslims in Kano are followers of the Qadiriyya Sufi tradition,
which is generally seen as more moderate than the Wahhabi branch of
Islam promoted by Saudi charities.
The protesters also demanded the resignation of prominent Wahhabi
officials from the state government, amid grumblings that al-
Muntada's wealth had given the movement too much influence in the
The Al-Muntada Al-Islami Trust, which builds mosques and Koranic
schools in 20 countries in Africa and Asia, is currently under
investigation in Nigeria.
The head of the group's Nigeria office, which is in Kano, was
arrested last month for questioning.
He has since been released and denies any connection between al-
Muntada and the violence, but security sources said the inquiry was
In the last weeks of 2003 a small group of militants mounted a
rebellion apparently aimed at creating a purist Islamic state
inspired by Taliban-era Afghanistan in Yobe State northeastern
border with Niger.
Security forces rapidly put down the uprising after a string of gun
battles which left at least 11 rebels and two police officers dead,
and raids have since been launched to net suspected sympathisers in
Kano. One of those hauled in was Sheikh Muhiddeen Abdullahi, a
Sudanese national and head of the Al-Muntada Al-Islami Trust's
operations in Nigeria.
Last week, after his release, Muhiddeen said: "We don't believe in
the use of arms as a means of propagation and we don't encourage
militancy. Our objective is Islamic propagation through education."
You know..it's a vast, stupid oversimplification for me to go "COOL" when I read about the protest, but damn. Cool. I mean..hello? Tolerance should be extended to all religions and all sects, but NOT to the funding of terrorism and sectarian violence. And if I can think of a more blatantly obvious thing to say you better damn betcha I'll put it in here.
I'm reading, in that bits and pieces way that makes things stick in your head, disconnected as hell but they *stick*..a book called "Journey Toward The Beloved--Essays on Sufi Women." Presumeably *by* Sufi women. And all I can think of at the moment is that wow..they're out there DOING it, and I'm in here reading about it.
Why couldn't it have been oh..Buddhist Shock Troops from New Jersey, caught in the act of aggressively praying over the World Trade Center? Amish paratroopers coming in, with rakes and hoes and cleaning up that damn Park? Jain demolitionists going out and blowing up ugly buildings for God? Facetious, but the world's dissolving, and somewhere along the way people stopped thinking. Now they believe, and it's scary.